The Recipe for Success
The Recipe for Success
What really successful people do and how you can do it too Blaire Palmer
First published in Great Britain 2009 A & C Black Publishers Ltd 36 Soho Square, London W1D 3QY www.acblack.com Copyright © Blaire Palmer, 2009 All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Publisher. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organisation acting or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by A & C Black Publishers Ltd or the author. A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library. eISBN: 978-1-40810-551-1 This book is produced using paper that is made from wood grown in managed, sustainable forests. It is natural, renewable and recyclable. The logging and manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. Design by Fiona Pike, Pike Design, Winchester Typeset by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suffolk Printed and bound in Great Britain by Cox & Wyman, Reading, RG1 8EX
Acknowledgements About the author Biographies Introduction Ingredient 1: Manners Ingredient 2: Focus Ingredient 3: Steel Ingredient 4: Trust Ingredient 5: Kitchen Cabinet Ingredient 6: Politics Ingredient 7: Talent Ingredient 8: Insatiable Appetite Ingredient 9: Invention Ingredient 10: Graft Ingredient 11: Seasoning Ingredient 12: Poisons Combining the ingredients
Sharon Connolly. Final thanks go to my family: my Mum and Dad. sister Lindsey and daughter Ivy Belle who was born in the middle of the project. I could not have written this book without my agent Charlotte Howard. Thank you also to Nelisha Wickremasinghe. They gave a great deal of time throughout the process in addition to their insights and practical ideas. John Savage and Phil Taylor. Jennifer Chevalier.
. Thank you to my own Kitchen Cabinet – Heather Beresford. Carole Blake. Vicki Day. my editor Lisa Carden or my au pair Stephanie Schliecker. Mark West and Lisa Derbyshire for access to their network as well as their support and friendship. Lucy Harris.Acknowledgements
I am very grateful to a large number of people who have helped me with this book. Deborah Meredith. John Barnes. Ros Munton and Julia Blower – who have helped me think through the recipe for success and run my various theories past them at length. Mike Wilsher. Graham Massey. Particular thanks go to my experts – Oli Barrett.
. Formerly a BBC journalist.com and read her blog at www. strive to be their best and achieve success in whatever area of work or life is most meaningful to them. Blaire’s first book. was published in 2007. She is also a columnist.com.blairepalmer. visit her website at www. The Hyper-Creative Personality. public speaker and regular guest on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show. Her clients are major corporations. Blaire now specialises in coaching leaders and teams to upgrade their performance and solve problems more creatively.About the author
Blaire Palmer is one of the UK’s leading creative thinking partners and executive coaches. entrepreneurs and individuals who. like her. For more information about Blaire’s work.
Other companies he has helped to launch. was a judge for the BBC television short story series ‘End of Story’ in 2004 and has been in Who’s Who since 1998.com (the sock subscription service). Peter James. Amazingyou.
LUCY HARRIS – STAR MAKER
After taking a degree in textile design.
JOHN SAVAGE CBE – ENABLER
John Savage is Chief Executive of GWE Business West and has more than 40 years’ hands-on business management experience. ‘Book Trade Lives’. which provides virtual secretarial and business support to executives. In 2005.000 school pupils are given £10 and one month to see what they can achieve. Lucy Harris worked as a buyer for Harrods for four years. She is a member of the advisory board for City University’s postgraduate publishing course. although she did venture briefly into advertising. In 1995 she joined the recruitment world. From there. As well as doing individual consultations.
CAROLE BLAKE – STAR MAKER
Carole Blake is one of the UK’s leading literary agents. at university. 1999). Disney and Sony Wonder in New York. she was appointed retail partner for the global executive search firm The Ashton Partnership. without the headaches of employing a full-time member of staff. Oli brought the concept of Speed Networking to the UK and continues to host events regularly.dm) and FriendsAbroad. then trained as a manager with Jaeger and later became store manager at Lewis’s in Manchester. and is under contract to write a revised and updated edition. a national competition in which 10. Craig Russell. working first for the retail agency Success Appointments before being approached to establish and run the retail arm of the executive search firm Morgan Chase Group. Later. Anne de Courcy and Barbara Erskine. In 2001. engineering and retail. Clients include Microsoft. the Book Trade Benevolent Society. a managing director for a TV shopping channel. growing the team to 150 people in nine cities and hosting events to connect students to young professionals for inspiration and opportunities. Her clients include Jane Asher. A busy mum of two young children. turning their Zygo label around. working mainly at board level within the construction and finance sectors. Unilever. Deborah’s considerable experience and skills enable her to co-ordinate the team at City PA into a highly effective support system for their clients to ensure that they receive the highest quality of service. Vicki describes the job as being like running a mini city. On discovering she had cancer. Oli founded his first company. category directors for Disney Consumer Services. She draws on her journalism expertise and retail background to help retailers and retail professionals raise their profile in the trade press. now in its tenth printing. Deborah brings 17 years of experience as an executive PA to the role. trades people and public sector clients. Soflow (the business networking site which merged into wis. small and medium-sized businesses. Sharon runs three successful businesses and knows that deciding what to wear might not be at the top of everyone’s list each morning. a consultancy providing advice to the retail industry. Sheila O’Flanagan. helping the company to plan and build its flagship Croydon store. BBC. product and e-commerce directors at board level for Blacks Leisure Group. Her clients are amazed to find they often don’t have to buy many new items. Channel 4. She worked in publishing. she worked for a former Lewis’s supplier.
DEBORAH MEREDITH – ENABLER
Deborah Meredith is managing director of City PA. she recorded her life story as part of the British Library’s oral history project. and Chairman of the book trade charity. a fashion director for John Lewis. Sharon is truly talented at transforming dull. a chief operating officer for a luxury leather brand. for 14 years before establishing the Carole Blake Literary Agency in 1977 which merged with Julian Friedmann’s agency in 1982 to become the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency. heads of divisions reporting to the European President of TK Maxx. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. before going on to work with the BBC. and a retail operations director for T-Mobile. She has helped thousands of people to discover how fabulous they can look once they know their rules and gain the confidence to be creative. putting concessions for five American labels in department stores. before moving on to the Leslie Fay company. Lucy has positioned. amongst others. in September 2007. Vicki took a year off for treatment and relaxation before returning to work for a retail headhunter. a merchandise director at board level for White Stuff. they just need a little guidance on how to bring it all to life.Biographies
OLI BARRETT – KEY HOLDER
Social entrepreneur Oli Barrett runs the innovation company Connected Capital and is the founder of Make Your Mark with a Tenner. and in which he remains a shareholder. None of the children found out). After dropping out of university he became a Butlins Redcoat (entertainer and compere) and worked with Hit Entertainment on the launch of the interactive show ‘Bob the Builder’. Carole has been President of the Association of Authors’ Agents. include SockRush. The company provides all the support you would expect from a PA. Over the last two years. John spent 16 years in general management
. Carole is the author of From Pitch to Publication: Everything You Need to Know to Get Your Novel Published (Macmillan. She started her retail life on the shop floor after studying manufacturing and retail fashion. full of characters and stories (like when Santa died in his Grotto – he was 75 years old and was buried in his suit. which is why having a wardrobe full of clothes that work – and combine well – is so important.
SHARON CONNOLLY – ENABLER
Sharon Connolly trained as a consultant with Colour Me Beautiful. Vicki went on to work with Ikea. the only agent to have been invited to do so.
VICKI DAY – ENABLER
Vicki Day specialises in PR and runs Pure Sauce. Sharon works with companies to ensure that their employees are portraying the right image. Devere Hotels and UKInbound. only to then retrain as a journalist with London’s City University and complete an internship at Drapers fashion trade magazine. and the advisory board of the UCL Centre for Publishing. British Heart Foundation. commercial. but quickly developed her own unique style of consultations and is now one of the UK’s most successful and sought-after image consultants. British Chambers of Commerce. a chief executive for a luxury children’s wear brand. boring wardrobes into combinations of stunning outfits. Chairman of the Society of Bookmen (then only the second woman to hold this position since it was founded in 1921). combining rights selling and contracts. she was approached to join the boutique consultancy Fusion Consulting as a director and.com (the world’s largest language learning exchange).
Phil has worked in many areas of the world. after the merger of these two bodies. he was appointed Chief Executive of The Bristol Initiative and.
. marketing and manufacturing areas of the business. Phil held a line management role with Mattel in manufacturing. Indonesia and Hong Kong (in an Asia Regional capacity) and held European and international HR leadership roles. John is also Vice Chairman of the West of England Partnership. He is currently based in the Netherlands and has responsibility for Mattel’s human resources (HR) function in 42 sales and marketing businesses outside the USA. he was appointed Executive Chairman of Business West. In September 2004. has given him a unique depth and breadth of experience in identifying and developing leaders across the world. For a number of years. before continuing with his HR career. from February 1993 became Chief Executive of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative. warehousing and logistics. working within a broad variety of countries and cultures. Much of his career has involved building and developing business leadership teams in both brown field and green field environments for the sales. Chairman of the South West Learning and Skills Council and Chairman of the United Bristol Healthcare Trust. John is dedicated to encouraging partnerships between local government..
PHIL TAYLOR – KEY HOLDER
Phil Taylor is Vice President of Human Resources for the International Division of Mattel Inc. He was awarded the CBE for services to Business and Regeneration in the 2006 New Year Honours List. Phil’s diverse career. In 1989.in the food production industry and then ran his own international distribution company for five years before joining the Associated Newspaper Group to carry out specialist consultancy work within a number of their subsidiary companies. he held a variety of HR positions with Scottish and Newcastle Breweries plc in the UK. the world’s leading toy company. industry and commerce in order to promote the position of Bristol and its neighbouring communities as a vibrant and vital European city region in the 21st century. as well as holding a number of other board and chairmanship positions in the West Country. leading teams in production. including the UK. and in April 2008 Chief Executive of its latest iteration – GWE Business West. Prior to joining Mattel. the revised joint operating company of the Bristol Chamber and Business Link West.
After all. they only have their own experience to go by. They work night and day on their invention. customers. When asked why they believe they have made it. mix in some belief in yourself and your product. it is easy to imagine that their success was always meant to be. Your image may be a part of your success but the issue is far more complex than simply kitting yourself out in the right gear. But some were. Most successful people don’t spend a large amount of time inspecting their own navel.Introduction
What is the recipe for success? What are the secret ingredients? What does it really take to be successful? If you read the autobiographies of self-made millionaires such as Richard Branson. Alternatively. In the media industry. And some extremely smartly dressed individuals don’t make it beyond the first line of management. or a lesson learnt in their youth led them inexorably to where they are today. Equally. Rachel Bridge. They will show you how every twist and turn in their life led them neatly to world domination. of course! They are writing from that end point. Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones. And I’ve worked with all kinds of people. They have read countless autobiographies and their bookshelves are heaving with self-help books. too. with the benefit of hindsight and from the comfort of their luxury home in the Bahamas. It is a stab in the dark. the equivalent of the pinch of saffron or the tablespoon of rosewater that the top chefs add to their restaurant dishes but leave out when they write their cookery books. It was as though there were secret ingredients that no one wanted to talk about. but the recipe for success still eludes them. Reading interviews with successful people often tells you nothing you didn’t already know.
. Add to this the fact that successful people may not be the best judge of why they’ve ended up where they are. They aren’t chief executives or managing directors. Any self-help book focused on career success will tell you that you need to dress the part if you want the job and their interviewees will back this up. Just have a good idea. It’s true that some of my best clients have been immaculately dressed. They are too busy getting on with the job in hand to look objectively at their motivations. industry norms play a part. As they look back on their humble beginnings. and they can’t understand why the results aren’t the same for others when they follow the same recipe. In this case. They have the talent and they have the ambition. Some might not want to admit that they got their first step on the ladder by misleading a friend. there is no miracle. partners or employees – to believe in it either. It may also be that successful people do not want to tell us the whole truth. and you’ll rise through the ranks to win the top job and the top salary. Autobiographies will tell you one person’s story from his or her perspective. They are asked what makes them successful and. They are just doing what comes instinctively. They didn’t feel disheartened or that their plans had been derailed because they knew it would work out in the end. it was simply a step along to path to the success they later achieved. This explanation is then taken as gospel by the author and repeated to readers who are left to wonder why it isn’t working for them. They are still languishing in middle management or struggling to get venture capital for their revolutionary invention. you’ll be told that anyone can do it. This theory claims that without empathy skills.1 However. Reverse-engineering the success of someone like Richard Branson won’t give you a step-by-step guide to your own success. bank managers.
THE PROBLEM WITH AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
So. The same passion for their business applies to everyone else in the book. work hard to stir up some interest and some investment and you can make it to the top. And these weren’t the differences I had read about in the self-help books or the autobiographies. their craft or their skill and talk about little else. their success seems preordained. Well. If you do not believe 100 per cent in what you are doing. author of How I Made It says that passion is a key ingredient for the entrepreneurs she interviewed: Ask Harry Cragoe [founder of PJ Smoothies] to tell you about his smoothies and he will happily talk about them for hours. readers will get more than one person’s word for it in the form of a selection of quotes from our most well-known and well respected business leaders. Except that there are many people out there basing their success strategy on these step-by-step instructions and finding it isn’t working for them. It must be true because Gordon Ramsay said it and look how successful he is! Let’s take some examples such as the oft-repeated maxim ‘dress for success’. to offer an explanation such as ‘determination’. They have no basis for comparison. And to the individuals concerned. you will never be able to persuade anyone else – investors. Some were destined for greatness or had achieved it already. an early experience of success. In short. Of course. one cannot achieve real success. These people are passionate about what they do.
THE PROBLEM WITH SELF-HELP BOOKS
So powerful are the clichés about success that they are rarely questioned rigorously. then. I work as a coach and ‘creative thinking partner’ for executives and entrepreneurs. helping them to get their head in the right place for ongoing. They work and struggle and pursue their dream. they might not want the whole world to know. open the pages of most self-help books and you’ll be told that the recipe is simple: just take a packet of self-confidence and add a pint of passion for what you do. But because these pearls of wisdom come from the horse’s mouth. sustainable success. for example. And yet it’s still not enough. just being themselves. Except that for most people. selling goods on the black market or by lying on their CV. Even when things went wrong. so clearly clothes do not tell the whole story. and largely I agree. add a large spoonful of straight speaking. And let’s look at emotional intelligence. we all take note. but they keep being passed over when promotions or other opportunities arise. After all. frankly. why don’t the rich and successful want to share all of their secrets with the rest of us? In part. highly tuned self-awareness and the ability to work as a member of a team. it is taken as fact. But when successful people say it was their ‘passion’ that set them apart. they often shrug and try. as explained above. there is always a miracle waiting around the corner. The authors of self-help books often interview the ‘usual suspects’ in order to gain an insight in to the secret recipe for success. they read meaning into every event and start to believe that something their mother once told them. It just makes business sense to keep a few secrets from your potential competition. many unsuccessful people have passion too. From there. but miracles don’t happen. a mess and no strangers to ripped jeans and unkempt hair. They were suited and booted straight out of the pages of ‘Executives R Us’. they try to be helpful and offer an explanation. it is not intentional. Successful people don’t always know what they are doing which is so different to everyone else. the secret ingredients might not be very attractive. If you follow the advice of Jack Welch (former head of the US giant General Electric). But I began to wonder whether ‘dressing for success’ really made a fundamental difference. admiration and achieve great things and those who plug away. And reading books like this can lead anyone to believe that just when things seem to be at their bleakest. seeming to do all the right stuff but not quite making it?’ I began to notice that there were some subtle differences between those who had it and those who didn’t. their values or their personal qualities. helpfully. denim is far more acceptable than it is in the world of high finance. As an Executive Coach I am well versed in the concept that it is ‘EQ’ which distinguishes exceptional leaders from average leaders. this secret ingredient is what gives them an edge so even if they know what it is. successful people are not the best analysts of what makes them different. And I started to wonder: ‘What makes the difference between people who effortlessly command respect. sieve the mixture rigorously to remove any mediocrity and you too can be the CEO of a multinational company. but others were struggling. It simply shows how events turned out for one man.
Two years later. They need to see past the inexperience. No-one made it in the corporate world without a headhunter. These individuals are basically talent-spotters. and whether you’ve got it. Yet. Secondly. but they may be fans of yours. you’ll need a team of backroom champions to make it happen. I believe the experts on success and the holders of the ‘secret recipe’ are a group of hugely powerful but often overlooked individuals without whom no one makes it into the boardroom. business is business. No-one wowed their audience without an agent. a top literary agent may receive 200 unsolicited manuscripts a week but will only select 10 new clients a year to represent. Her insight will help you get it right. Star Makers and Key Holders. He’ll give a helping hand to someone he thinks has the right stuff: A lot of what I am doing is seeing what talent we’ve got. Confidence is also an attractive quality. STAR MAKERS AND KEY HOLDERS
You can’t be successful without them. Sometimes I have rejected authors and got furious diatribes back and I think they might be in the wrong business if they can’t learn how to accept rejection graciously. a nod from someone in Human Resources or a passionate internal advocate. I sent off many ideas for books to agents and publishers before hitting upon one which attracted attention. In terms of self-awareness. they have nothing to hide. The agent will know what she’s looking for and what just won’t work. and according to Carole Blake. The publishing industry isn’t daft – it helps to look good – but you won’t be published without talent. they see both the hopeful and the hopeless. you may have visited a venture capitalist before with an idea but it wasn’t quite the right one at the right time. Having said that. I have some personal experience of this. where they are at. It almost doesn’t matter whether they are right or wrong. They may have been watching you for some time before they are in a position to help you or before you are ready for their help. Phil Taylor. And the people who can tell you what that ‘something’ is are right here in this book. why someone else is making a fortune and you’re not? Well. a top literary agent who represents best-selling authors like Craig Russell and Peter James. Sensing that taking the word of a small selection of high profile successful people or self-help gurus was not going to give me any fresh insights. Venture capitalists don’t want to waste their time. For example. many would not – or could not – explain their deepest motivations. a sponsor or venture capitalist if you want to set up in business or a headhunter if you want to make it in the corporate world. In fact. As Star Maker and headhunter Lucy Harris says: You can summarise someone in the first three seconds but it is not always accurate. ‘centres of influence’ who enjoy giving other people a leg up as they were given a leg up in the past. the reasons they wanted to hit certain goals or why they had achieved great success. the timing might be right and the idea is a winner. it is possible. they were often loathed by some as much as they were loved by others. that those people really do have something that you don’t have. Whenever I go to other countries. Star Makers recognise talent quickly. I don’t know any published authors who haven’t also been rejected at some time. These will include an agent if you want to do anything creative. KEY HOLDERS AND ENABLERS BETTER INSIGHT?
Firstly. To attract the attention of a Star Maker. while you stare at a blank order book. It could be down to nerves.2 Once I had an agent the way became easier. often based on what looked and sounded like a lot like gut instinct. Ever wonder why you didn’t get that promotion? Ever see some contemporary of yours on TV talking about her new book/play/ number one single and wonder ‘Why isn’t that me?’ Ever wonder. And it is these Enablers who know what it takes. if all else is equal and I have a choice of three novels but one of the authors is funny. Anything that sounded too much like ‘coaching’ was a total turn-off and any self-development work had to be disguised as something else. You do need to be fairly self-confident to be a writer but many authors. If they can articulate why most people who approach them are rejected. For example.
ENABLERS. according to Blake: The people I represent sometimes need boosting rather than being arrogant. that wasn’t always what I found. how we develop them. Vice President of International Human Resources for toy maker Mattel. you will also need to be what they are looking for at the time they are looking for it. And while many were excellent judges of people. in whatever field that might be and however you want to define it. one which helps you deal with rejection. If you see confidence or even arrogance you can’t necessarily understand it immediately. Nor were they interested in such self-examination.
THE KEY HOLDERS
Key Holders are influential people who will open doors for you. you can’t get far without Star Makers. .
WHAT GIVES STAR MAKERS.
THE STAR MAKERS
In some walks of life. They don’t always want responsibility for ‘making’ you. is just one of those. just possible. I call them Enablers. No-one started up their dream business without a family loan. a friendly bank manager or venture capital. that does help. or the youth of the person before them and see a gift that can be honed.
. Whatever your field. can become bitter and that’s not pleasant because it doesn’t help them. . Most were part of a team and they realised that no-one makes it alone. It is these Star Makers who mould you in to someone worthy of the boardroom. what we need to do. they have a vested interest in telling you the truth. It is hard to stand out if you are writing your first novel in your 40s. If you want to be successful. But they were also the boss and they made the final decision. Without the support. or in her 70s or 17 years old. Most people who write to her do not make the grade. life isn’t always fair: You see a lot of unpublished authors bemoaning the fact that a published author is good looking with blue eyes. they may be able to put off a few people who lack the talent (or whatever else it is that makes the difference) and so receive pitches that are of a more appropriate quality. Thirdly. It’s what they think that matters. because they get so many rejections. the bravado. and doors that were previously shut opened a crack. what they are doing. I turned my attention to a much-ignored class of people who actually have the power to make and break individuals trying to get to the top.Yet when I looked at some of my most successful clients. these are the kinds of people you need on your side if you are going to make a splash professionally. It is these Key Holders who open doors for you. rather than empathy. They had the hide of a rhino and had decided many years ago that their job was to do the right thing rather than to make friends. contacts and advice of these people you’re just an ambitious person with nothing to show for it. a coach or a stylist. polished or set on the right path with their help. I always take time to meet the people they see as ‘high potentials’ in that country so I can get more involved in their long term development.
Oli Barrett is a networker who has shares in a variety of business he has helped to start up: I don’t believe someone should have to struggle for months to make the right connection when I know the person they should meet. But he has teamed up with someone else who has. we brainstorm ideas and bounce concepts around until the client has total clarity. You have to shape things and people. As an executive coach. And they seem to have a genuine desire to connect people up. Not all of them will agree that my final list of ingredients is definitive. However. Enablers include internal sponsors or mentors who may receive nothing but a sense of satisfaction out of helping you. it makes for a pretty rich. as Chief Executive of Business West and Chairman of the United Bristol Healthcare Trust. But some Enablers are found by happy accident: they’re childhood friends. Oli Barrett does this by managing his huge network very carefully: I might have 650 friends on Facebook but I have 10 close friends. Otherwise you are just someone who knows everyone and everyone wants to know someone like that don’t they? I try to be careful about saying ‘Yes’ to face time with someone when a 10 minute phone call is as effective. Getting to be in their inner circle is a big step towards accessing their network. Of course. Some meet me when they are in their prime. I have been the Enabler for successful people. who provides PR services for top-flight executives. But is their motivation always so altruistic? John Savage’s motivation is selfish in some ways. Together they are a winning team. He is void of personality. then. their perspective will be subjective. rounded and powerful recipe. many felt that other ingredients were vital to the mix. or whether it is a case of ‘You’ve either got it or you haven’t’. 40. but put together with their observations about people they have helped to stardom and those they have rejected. I don’t do business with any of my friends. Sometimes you find an Enabler on purpose. As you’ll see in Chapter 11. they are confident and focused and use their time with me as a sounding board. but it is the Enablers who see the messy ‘insides’ that lie at the heart of many a successful person. How I Made It . These are your secret weapon. London: Kogan Page. But the selection here are ingredients that most of our experts agreed were important. They just lack the confidence to know what to do about it. I have also found having a simple personal website with a ‘Contact us’ form rather than an e-mail address is fantastic because it is attached to an explanation of what I do so approaches tend to be more relevant. it won’t. A lot of the time they are at a life change.
1 Bridge. is vital. They have made their way to the top and can share some of the lessons they learnt along the way. 2007. I ‘cast’ every one of these so it is an interesting blend of people and this is a way that I can connect with them even if it is just through the invitation. Your job is to ask yourself honestly whether these are qualities you either want to replicate or are capable of replicating . To the outside world they are self-assured and never lose their way. They aren’t car-crash bad. And all are successful in their own right. an image consultant who works with senior business people one-to-one or through workshops. Vicki Day. but I make them aware that in certain areas that is going to alienate people and in others it is going to open doors for them. Blaire. got divorced.11. either professionally or personally. I want to help save them time. 50. however. They have reached 30. The Hyper-Creative Personality. London: New Holland. What holds people back more than anything is that they haven’t met the right person. even the most successful people lack the skills to achieve anything on their own: Successful people of that level have a kind of OCD. But they guard their space passionately. p.Key Holders tend to be well-respected and plugged into good networks. And I believe we have a duty to make the world work as well as we can. as well as helping people taking a career break and even the odd TV presenter and actor. says that behind every successful person is a partner – either in business or at home – who makes things happen. highly creative. no more than a dozen are in the friends category but even then I am quite careful about the time I spend with them. he is also motivated out of a deeper. more spiritual belief: Homo sapiens are the epitome of the Creation. Rachel. He has no interpersonal skills. The whole image will be shot to pieces if the truth about the successful person were to come out in public. If you sit back and think everything will turn out alright. In this book we will be hearing from a selection of Star Makers. recently selling his business for £45m. got a promotion. When people seek her out. everyone wants a piece of them. He wants to work with people who share his values and work well with him so he mentors those in his sphere. They know everyone and everyone knows them. Some clients. college roommates. elements that they saw regularly in their favourite clients. They use their coaching sessions to ‘get in the zone’ before an important meeting.
The third category of behind-the-scenes powerhouses is the Enablers. My best friend is hugely successful. Trust. And I host events on a monthly basis where I have 100 people in a room at the same time and offer something to them which might be valuable to them – the chance to meet other people. Many top executives have turned to Sharon Connolly. Self-doubt and self-analysis are not a part of our work together. In terms of people I do business with. or a wife who has a particular skill at making her husband look great (or vice versa). When someone is successful there’s often a ying and yang thing going on. Time with them is absolutely sacred. dynamic people who make things happen and seeing their often swift progress. colleagues and stars. I want to help people I believe in. 2005. Key Holders and Enablers. Without this partner. If they want to dye their hair blue and wear red socks that’s fine. I enable them to take control of their own image so they are aware of the impact of their decisions. Instead. they are often at a crunch point in their lives. 2 Palmer.
. presentation or confrontation. I am not a God-pusher but I am a believer. trusted advisers. do suffer greatly from a lack of confidence.. something that has triggered them looking in the mirror and saying ‘I don’t like what I see’.. honest friends who tell it to you like it is and make up for the gaps in your own personality or skill set. Consequently. It is massively rewarding spending time with high energy.
There is a belief that. I regularly get e-mails to ‘Blair’ or even ‘Mr Blair’ and Carole Blake. A ‘survival of the fittest’ culture has evolved where people are expected to cope with the pressures of the office and accept that rudeness or lack of common courtesy is part of modern life. thereby getting them out of a tricky situation and giving you a chance to enunciate your name properly for the new person you are meeting. They sat on either side of a glass partition and I watched. Chief Executive of Business West. He is very polite. For example. by contrast. I didn’t get the part. as e-mails can’t convey tone of voice. one could stand it no longer. Cheek and persistence sometimes work.’ A handwritten note has become a powerful statement of good manners and consideration since the dominance of e-mail and typewritten communication. It became clear within seconds that there had been a misunderstanding and. Then more came later. It is much easier these days to find out the name of the person you want to speak or write to without resorting to techniques worthy of a private detective. in fact. they can be easily misinterpreted. Then he asked.3 Technology has been blamed for the increase in rudeness at work. many of those who have made it to the very top do not seem to have followed this recipe. As an Enabler. but it is harder to forget and in this way we build up animosity towards colleagues based on absolutely nothing. The F Word or Dragons’ Den. However. ‘Do you have a capacity for compassion? Can you see a child fall over in the playground and feel the pain in your own knee?’ After all. However. maybe even a meeting with the PA. is a dead end for achieving big things. you might think of jewellery as it sounds similar. And you can help others when they are introducing you to people. One ingredient that was mentioned by almost all of the Star Makers. I always make a memorable association for the person I am meeting by saying. When deciding who to represent. has an impact on results. you need a large helping of brusqueness. I want to make sure that authors don’t turn into brats. a division of the Net Future Institute. Without the approval of someone like her. When their salesman called. have a conversation with the PA. We can forgive. An Enabler who is passionate about helping people develop their potential. incredulous. I remember attending an audition at a TV production company which was looking for a coach to take part in a new reality show. in a team I was working with. The reason? I wasn’t rude enough. even if that means asking again. only about a third of senior executives and managers could say that their people always practised good manners. get out of the kitchen’ is a clichéd response to anyone who complains that the culture is impolite. you will immediately remember the association and her name will come to mind. Rudeness in the workplace is widespread. Being the king of the put-down or the queen of cruelty has become almost a cliché. He says: Ruthlessness and crassness concern me. But what plays well on television doesn’t work so well in the boardroom. you want your assistant to recommend to friends that they read someone’s book because they were so polite when they came into the office. as e-mails flew back and forth and the authors’ faces became more frustrated. I said he could have a half-hour meeting. Look at the person and take in some of his or her more obvious characteristics. When it comes to individual people’s efforts. it would appear that rudeness is the ‘quality’ that will guarantee you a fast track to success. I said no. of course. The survey found that organisations with a high incidence of incivility had a high percentage of poor and inconsistent performers and this. A bouquet was delivered. in order to be successful in a business. he believes manners are tied up with a genuine compassion for others. like the former Prime Minister’. don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. no one gets to see the boss. True business etiquette dictates that introductions are determined by precedence. I ask.
IT’S IN THE NAME
So what form can good manners take? Addressing people correctly is a good start. There is a hangover effect from such encounters. Just for the sheer cheek. The basic rule is that the name of the person of greater authority is always spoken first: ‘Ms Senior. but it is effective because so many people can’t seem to master the skill. Although the misunderstanding was identified in this case. leading to what the research called ‘office rage’.2 And in a survey by NFI Research. Such animosity is bad for business. ‘What do I have to do to get a meeting with him?’. 68 per cent of participants in a survey by Canon said they had been spoken to rudely at work. Make sure you have heard the name correctly. representing best-selling authors such as Peter James and Craig Russell. repeat your name as you shake the new person’s hand. And good manners give some people the edge: One of the best examples I remember from when I was a PA was a company who sent a direct mail piece saying they would telephone in two days.1 while in the UK. Maeve Binchy [not one of Carole’s clients] writes thank-you postcards to people in shops that have invited her to do a reading. you can repeat your name a couple of times in conversation. and then make an association. she wields huge power. it was shown that incivility had a detrimental impact on performance at work. both women agreed completely about the course of action needed. In the end. A quick Internet search will tell you who to speak to and how to spell their name. ‘If you can’t take the heat. courteous. Alternatively. manners is a vital consideration: Peter James is one of my best-selling authors. Deborah Meredith has a lifetime of experience as a PA to chief executives and chairmen. Despite this. picturing the way they glint in the light and the sound they might make. Once. Key Holders and Enablers I interviewed for this book was good old-fashioned manners. I work all the time – I don’t have weekends – so I want people who inhabit my life to be people I can admire. They recognise that people still respond most favourably to good oldfashioned manners and they go above and beyond their duty to demonstrate this. I wouldn’t always recommend this. he remembers people’s names and people will go that extra mile for him. If you own seven cars and three houses. he asked for half an hour with the boss. angry and aggressive. If you sense someone struggling to remember your name as they attempt to introduce you. so I said I was quite partial to white lilies. Memory expert David Thomas suggests that you create an image when you hear someone’s name for the first time. If someone is called Julie. Imagine Julie wearing a mass of jewels. After they have introduced you. what’s that doing for you? The cult of selfishness was absolutely pushed by Thatcher. She stood up and stormed in to the other’s cubicle. Getting their name right and remembering it the next time you meet them sounds simple. Recent research from Australia and New Zealand showed that one in five people had experienced bad manners at work at least once in the previous month. In the above-mentioned Australian and New Zealand research. co-founder of literary
To anyone watching the popular TV programmes The Apprentice. This is patently wrong. The person who holds the position of highest authority in an organisation takes precedence over others who work there. ‘Blaire. Make the image as vivid as you can so that the next time you see Julie. Subsequently he got the contract. Self-centredness. Star Maker Carole Blake is one of the top literary fiction agents in the UK. no one can erase the 10-minute ‘office rage’ that occurred or who was responsible. but be upfront with the gatekeeper. John Savage CBE. I would like to introduce Mr Junior. He called again and I said no. typifies these traditional values and expects to see them in those he mentors. This went on for three or four weeks. It is also good manners to tell people your name in a way they can remember. you have to introduce your company’s chief executive to a colleague. It is easier to be tough or terse in an e-mail than face to face – people often miss out ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ because electronic communication is perceived as less formal. I observed two colleagues exchanging e-mails over a period of about 10 minutes. what is success all about? Being happy and getting satisfaction.
• Keep your cool whenever possible. explaining specifically what offended you and suggesting ways to work more effectively together in future. make a poor presentation. discuss it with him or her face to face. The trust level gets very low. In addition. even accidental. patience and good manners. manners are still such an important ingredient in the mix. kindness. He believes that cut-throat behaviour should not be rewarded: You want to see people who are passionate. slip up on a piece of work. they will come down hard – maybe even blocking your opportunity to progress in the organisation – if you are continually in debt. imagine your conversations are like a movie script.
SHOW SOME RESPECT
The clothes we wear also demonstrate our manners.agency Blake Friedmann. by following their lead. you lose the higher moral ground. But remember: don’t do it by e-mail! As we have already seen. you need the expertise and assistance of people like Carole Blake or John Savage. If the conflict does escalate and comes to the attention of a more senior authority. Stephen Covey uses the analogy of the bank account to explain how we build and withdraw credit from people around us. enable or work alongside anyone who constantly exhibited such behaviour beyond doing the very minimum which was required. but your tone can betray any frustration or aggression you may be feeling. in fact. spend time developing you and see their investment pay off. but that they have earned enough credit to keep your support even when they let off steam. You always have the option to use your company’s formal complaints procedure. If there is a problem with a colleague. But it is worth mentioning that not one of the experts interviewed for this book felt that good manners were optional.
• Remember people’s names. But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy. who work hard to get their mission across. . But if you’ve got someone who is always chewing your head off. If you react as they do. says that her business partner Julian Friedmann regularly gets letters starting ‘Dear Blake’. Enabler Sharon Connolly. But ask yourself whether you have built up enough ‘credit’ through good manners with colleagues to endure difficult times. They don’t need to be rude or aggressive to others to do that. but if you respond with grace. Show that you appreciate people. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. successful person works their internal network as well as their external network. However. believes that dressing appropriately is a sign of respect for others: When you go for interview. but you can write your own and. eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn. And I think leaders should show the way by dressing a little bit smarter than everyone else. but if you stand up to him he’ll get it off his chest and then it’s over and done with. A smart. Enabler Vicki Day has seen many outbursts in her years in retail: Philip Green can melt earwax when he goes on the verbal offensive. Given that a leg-up or a good word are so important in a competitive environment. I don’t think it drives a healthy organisation. may work in your favour by setting you apart as someone who understands acceptable standards of behaviour and lives by an admirable moral code. • Dress smartly. puts you further in debt.
. • Introduce people to one another. I don’t think it is our culture. an image consultant for senior executives. they’ll continue to be rude. the most senior first. Remember personal aspects such as the names of their children or what work their partner does. People will be forgiving if you are in credit with them. honesty and keeping my commitments to you. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t customer-facing. no matter how junior they are. However. I build up a reserve . you will have more support if you behaved impeccably. Although many had seen rudeness in senior people. • Remember that good manners are good for business. come into conflict with a colleague or even take genuine sick leave there is little capacity for generosity in the people around you if you have already put yourself in the red because of previous disrespectful behaviour. you want to see people who care. He explains:4 If I make deposits in an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy. other people have to change theirs. Even the most placid of us can become enraged and act out of character when we are put under extreme pressure. It might seem unfair that you have been judged so harshly for something outside of your control. You can’t write the other players’ lines. Of course. you don’t want to make the same mistake twice. their rudeness may not be inhibiting your route to success and. . Mattel’s Phil Taylor is a Key Holder within the organisation and has a responsibility for opening doors to talented individuals in the business. • Listen properly and always look people in the eye. As difficult as it may be. This is not to say that successful people always keep their cool. smiling where appropriate. In addition. They are responsible in some way for giving you access to the next rung on the ladder. Once you are ‘in the red’ in the Emotional Bank Account. they may follow suit. Because you understand that. this doesn’t mean you can’t also be tough where needed. In order to achieve great success. And the clothes you wear are part of that. Handwritten notes are often appreciated. you tend to make more mistakes. . . However. promote. And this is one of the ingredients that is recognised in most organisations. e-mails can be the cause of misunderstanding and poor communication and should not be relied upon for something as subtle as giving feedback to a colleague. It may be seen as an extreme reaction to a minor conflict which could be resolved informally. use a neutral tone of voice otherwise your words may be polite. Good manners seem to buy a lot of credit and goodwill. It may be surprising that in today’s fast-paced business world. even if you never see customers. But this idea of ‘Sunday Best’ is something we have lost both in society in general and in the workplace because of the culture of casual dress. However. you may decide this is not advantageous or necessary. A quiet word like this may resolve the problem or may be a formality before taking the issue further. any withdrawal. disrespect . by wearing a suit and cleaning your shoes and showing up on time you are demonstrating respect. You may even observe other people making a similar mistake and being treated with more consideration. You can only afford to ‘melt earwax’ if you have built up credit in the Emotional Bank Account. They have to want to help you. they would not willingly assist. it is as well to have as many fans as possible rooting for you. If you are late for an appointment. when you change your script. • Remember please and thank you. Your colleagues – your boss and your peer group – are your customers too. many of us are motivated to behave rudely as a result of the constant rudeness of others.
London: Simon &Schuster UK Ltd.1 www.au/articles/F7/0c04e6f7. Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.com/article/141452/Too_Few_Manners_at_Work 4 Covey.
.humanresourcesmagazine.co. p.cio.uk/2008/01/18/bad-manners-tips-uk-workers-over-the-edge 3 www.com.asp?Type=59&Category=917 2 www.binfo. 1989.188.
but they don’t care what you think. living in the past is not helpful. They have to have these qualities in order to think ‘I am going to succeed no matter what’. and maybe even arrogance. Very soon. However. They have to pitch their idea to five people who tell them it is rubbish and then ring another five people. arrogant. Focus is not actually a single ingredient but more a mix of spices – a ‘garamasala’ if you like. convinced that someone. even though if you had asked him he would have said his focus was on the well-being of his staff. They are so fearful of failure that they cannot read the writing on the wall. Dragons’ Den tycoon Peter Jones believes the two qualities that all successful entrepreneurs have are determination and perseverance. it is often because no one was focused on the priorities. be that the overall objective.Ingredient 2
Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will make you easier to work with. how a competitor will do in a particular race. Many wannabe successes think they are being focused when they stick with a no-hoper idea for too long. the arts. The successful person has his or her eyes front. being right or making a quick buck. That’s almost as bad as being fiveover and thinking they are going to score in the 80s. stroke or throw. It is the same in any field – business. 2. It is the ingredient which fuels the successful person’s drive to succeed. if only we had the conviction to hang in there.g. many of us are also prone to believing the naysayers and giving up too soon. In fact. For him. bonuses. Their focus is in the wrong place. Instead he picks himself up and starts again: When I start a new business or invest in one. On the other hand. that doesn’t mean successful people are cut off from reality. Personal PR expert Vicki Day says that successful people often appear to wear blinkers. he says the tycoon’s mindset is always to see every business venture ‘failure’ as an opportunity for feedback and education in order to avoid making the same mistake again. . Preferring to talk about ‘feedback’ than failure. often referred to as the big picture or the vision. means that he does not allow failure to affect his state of mind. It’s also the ingredient which enables them to get things done despite opposition. Obstacles are there to be overcome. never losing their focus on the end goal. His focus was on himself and his popularity. his focus should have been on sustainable bottom line growth. It is vital to be passionate. though.g. rather than focusing on what they have to do right here and how. he had to make redundancies. Focus is about knowing where to look. Stay in the moment While it is important to learn from the past. Keep a cool head Focusing on remaining calm when the adrenaline is pumping means that you can control the jitters that plague many performers. They are focused on proving something. but you can control how you perform. Knowing how long to persist with an idea is vital for success. People who head up successful businesses do not allow this to happen. He doesn’t allow himself to read a deeper message into these failures such as ‘Maybe I am no good at this’. not as a trigger to lose faith in themselves and their ability to achieve a goal. so great is their focus on the goal: They have massive inner belief and the ability not to listen to detractors. academia – get the process right and the outcomes take care of themselves. As we can see. can all be part of the blend. In this case our focus is on cynics. They have incredible control over their mindset. 3. but it is important that passion doesn’t overwhelm you when it counts. Instead. . Many successful leaders and entrepreneurs have faced criticism or even rejection along the way to success. what are successful people focusing on? According to research by Professor Graham Jones and Olympic swimmer. they get back on the path again and resume their journey. Focus comes in many forms. Perhaps the opportunity to make millions was just around the corner. sinking their life savings in to it and sacrificing everything they have when the more astute business person would have called it a day and moved on. They have an inner drive. Equally. They want to see results and. Instead they focus on excellence in every step. His focus. As Jones and Moorhouse put it: ‘Some golfers who find themselves five-under-par after seven holes get carried away by thoughts of a very low score. Adrian Moorhouse.3 Focus is not simply stubbornness. No need to ask how popular he was then. a poor result or a bout of insecurity. While other people may occasionally lose that sense of perspective. stubbornness. When a business fails. but they kept pressing on. They take note of failure or setbacks but only as an opportunity to learn. That would have been the way to ensure all his people had a job for life. We care too much what other people say and lose sight of our instincts and
. there is one trait that is always present – a determination to win and be successful . even the use of a lifestyle manager. it is about knowing what is important and not caving in to distractions. critics and risk-avoiders. somewhere would eventually back them and their idea. or persistence. You cannot control someone else’s performance. perseverance is what helps him to overcome obstacles. the big picture or the job in hand in order to turn a venture into a success. self-confidence. Sometimes they will be looking inside themselves. self-confident. so firefighting took over and direction was lost. persistence. Maybe they are cocky. the successful person always has it in their sights.
WHAT TO FOCUS ON
So. that their venture is dead. healthcare insurance. Focus on the positives Thinking about your worst-case scenario is a ticket to failure. those at the top make choices about what to focus on. e. I worked with a client many years ago who wanted to win a ‘boss of the year’ award and showered his small (but rapidly growing) staff with added extras – gym membership.
FOCUS VS STUBBORNESS
Of course. no matter how many times they fail. rather than on long-term sustainable success. always living in the future is a distraction. too spicy or simply too bland.1 successful performers report that focusing on the following is hugely important: 1. looking towards the horizon and guiding everyone else towards that same distant point. Taunting yourself with ‘What if this happens?’ is likely to bring about exactly the outcome you dread the most. And focus is the ingredient that provides the momentum which other people can get behind. but they don’t focus on that daily as they train. They don’t want to raise their head to see the truth. He measured the success of his business by how many people he employed and how much they loved him.’2 4. to win the 2012 Olympic Gold). which means they do not get nudged off their course easily by something as inconvenient as a rejection letter. Get the balance wrong and your mixture will be too sour. Some people are put off by what other people will say. 5. What is controllable While many of us spend a lot of our time worrying about what lies outside our control. but ‘focus’ is the necessary ingredient for getting things done. at other times they will be looking into the distance. peak performance requires a focus on what you are good at and what has gone well in the past. those at the top of their game identify the factors that are outside their influence and then focus on what they can control. Getting the process right Exceptional performers have a big goal (e.
One of the problems in possessing a great degree of focus is that you may miss out on ideas and information which lie in your peripheral vision. affect the environment in which you operate. Lucy Harris is a Star Maker who works as a headhunter. if you are exceptionally stubborn and believed to be averse to change and inflexible. then come back and it’s all blown over. of course. The desire to do it all alone has brought down many potential high flyers and is an obstacle to success. or maybe your focus is on your personal success – getting to the top of the company or making as much money as you can. says Executive PA and Enabler Deborah Meredith: They may have a bad day. This is why focus can look like selfishness. It doesn’t matter whether you are motivated by money. acknowledge that you can’t do it all alone. specialising in the retail sector. as well as the ability to stay on track. they do consider it. and then they are back asking. It’s better to slam a few doors. But they retain their focus. Those who let it fester are awful and it isn’t nice working for them. They don’t get distracted by peripherals. They fight their corner. One only has to look at the impact on the whole world economy of the 2008 credit crunch in the United States to see how a butterfly effect can occur and how links between seemingly unrelated parts of our society begin to emerge. You stick with Plan A. Most top executives have not landed their job without the help of a headhunter. They focus on the big things that make the big difference. you don’t keep looking at Plan C. but they pull themselves out of it. However. When he lost it all a year later.4 What these people are able to do is analyse failure and draw out the lesson. only that you have focused on what is important rather than fixating on one particular means to get there.
. even anger. is expecting too much. Do you need to be stubborn to maintain that focus and continue to get there? Potentially. and as long as your focus is connected with what makes the business successful. to be looking around a subject as well as directly at it. Of course. Businessman Chris Gorman followed up his success with his mobile phone retail company DX Communications by investing £500.of the evidence. it needs to be a natural fit for you. you might believe your mission is to help people in your organisation to achieve their full potential. you can achieve great results. according to Key Holder Phil Taylor. so it can look selfish. take advantage of a new opportunity or improve their performance on previous years. They get it out of their system by letting off steam. whatever your focus. he was not discouraged: It was a great learning experience for me to feel the pain of failure because it taught me that I should stick with things I know and understand. Focus on whatever is important to you but recognise you can’t focus on everything at once. Interpret your mistake incorrectly and you will continue to make it. but is complicated further by the needs of the changing market: You need focus and drive. Deborah has worked for chief executive officers (CEOs) and chairmen and chairwomen throughout her career. They are strong-willed. disappear for a bit. but when it is pointed out that things could be done a different way. I can contradict that straight away by saying you need to be very flexible. by the desire to make the world a better place or by a belief in the products your company produces. flexibility must always go into the ‘garamasala’. The trick. Successful people are successful because they have seized opportunities to do something they are personally passionate about: They only do the things that drive their ambition. there is always a chance of failure. or even a bad week. How will changes in the Internet world (such as social networking sites) affect the expectations of your staff? How will oil prices affect your ability to buy certain products? How will advances in medicine or our understanding of climate change affect the world order in 10 or 20 years? None of us is insulated from events elsewhere in the world. And when we take risks.
HOW TO FOCUS
Where does this sense of focus come from? Why are some people able to keep the bigger picture in their minds at all times. like everyone else when this happens. If you want to make it big. Many successful people have experienced failure during their professional lives. Just as Peter Jones describes. but they have more than their fair share. address it effectively and your next venture will be more successful.000 in setting up a recording studio. but used the knowledge they gained to keep going with their overall mission. That doesn’t mean you have lost focus. It is like opening the windows to let bad air out. She can quickly tell the difference between someone who has the qualities to succeed and someone who does not. the ability to adapt to changing circumstance and even drop the project you are working on if it no longer looks like it will succeed. this doesn’t mean that successful people set out to fail. they make sure their opinion is heard. As he points out. In my experience. Successful people experience frustration. The most successful people have learnt to rely on others to bring them information which may lie outside their precise focus. Top jobs tend to go to people who are known in their industry and come with a hefty recommendation. keeping them in middle management rather than progressing further up their organisation. But in order to break new ground. ‘What did we learn?’ They have a rant – you might think World War Three is about to start – and then we are best friends again. In this market. Getting the right balance between stubbornness and flexibility is fundamental. It was better it happened then than when I had £20 million to lose. Instead. As long as you get the opportunity to promote and maintain this focus. Expecting one individual to have both focus and peripheral vision. It is the effective combination of perseverance and the ability to change tack or even stop what you are doing altogether that is so unusual and which separates those who achieve huge success from those who don’t. She has seen them behind closed doors when they are struggling to get the balance right between driving forward or moving on to something new: They are certainly stubborn. We all have our moments. They are stubborn in that way. They aim for success – that’s where their focus is. is knowing when to listen to the feedback you receive and when to block out the noise. that’s a bad thing. the world is turning. when the rest lose their sense of purpose and get lost in the everyday details? A focus must resonate with you. The product or service that your company provides may not even be your chief focus. But that’s important. This might include developments in other industries which don’t directly impact yours but may. determined. but not so stubborn that they would cut off their nose to spite their face. but always ready to listen to different points of view. they must take risks. We are distracted by the voices in our head and the voices in our immediate vicinity. But they know how to handle it. While you are focusing on your business or your project. That said. this is one of the key factors which holds leaders back. they did not take it personally. but which is still relevant to the success of the company. An executive search professional will connect the company in need with a perfect-fit candidate. you are likely to lose your focus quickly. If your company makes widgets and you are expected to get excited about being the biggest widget manufacturer in the world without actually caring for the product or for world domination. in future.
What was it about this experience that drove you? If you have more than one experience like this. You do not need to be reminded of your focus because it is part of who you are. persistence. London: Hodder & Stoughton. p. If you are seeking your own recipe for success. If this is a constant struggle. your focus chooses you rather than you choosing it.In the end. 2005. Everyone has innate motivations. do not lose your focus. Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance. or a place where the work itself was mundane but the people made it worthwhile. Oxford: Spring Hill. and Adrian Moorhouse. You cannot fake focus for long. Steve’s mind begins to wander. learn the lesson and shift your focus to something you can believe in or move to a more suitable environment for you. do not get distracted. Graham. Perhaps you were more like this in your childhood than in recent years? Maybe there was a project you worked on early in your career which lit your fire. Discovering yours and then designing your life and work around it is the simplest way to stay focused. excels in turning around struggling businesses. Think about times when you have been completely absorbed in what you were doing. self-confidence. p. London: Kogan Page. when you woke up in the morning desperate to pick up where you left off. Graham. Many entrepreneurs enjoy the thrill of starting a business and then lose interest once the company is able to stand on its own two feet. • Listen to others whose area of focus is different from yours so you get the complete picture. but cannot make a success of others. The most successful people know that this is the time to move on and bring in a safe pair of hands to focus on steady growth. • If your efforts do not work first time. Simply learn from the experience and apply that learning to your next project. He is not sure why he is there or what he is meant to be doing. • Above all. • Make sure that what is important is also naturally motivational for you.96. but dangerous in successful ones.46. who we will call Steve. One of my clients.147. Peter. How I Made It . You cannot focus on everything at once. Oxford: Spring Hill.
1 Jones. Steve likes to be parachuted in to a business when there is a real possibility the company may have to shut down. 4 Bridge. Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance. 3 Jones. This is when he starts to look elsewhere for another high-octane project. Tycoon: How to Turn Dreams Into Millions. and Adrian Moorhouse. Such leaders are precious in failing businesses. 2 Jones. Rachel. Keep your sights on your overall objective and make sure that every step you take is intended to bring you closer to that. This ‘natural fit’ requirement is why some people excel in certain environments. Their need for drama in order to maintain their focus can result in them implementing changes where they are not needed and challenging the status quo when stability is necessary. look at how easily you are able to maintain your focus on the big picture in your company. what do they have in common? This is how you begin to discover your natural focus. 2007. but when the turnaround is successful and jobs in the company are safe. 2007. Continue to do this throughout your life. He has no trouble keeping his focus in a life-and-death situation.
• Mix stubbornness. flexibility and vision. • Understand what is actually important to success and focus on that. p. p. 2007.
successful people are human too. build a series of greenhouses promoting environmental issues and turn it into one of the biggest tourist destinations in the UK.Ingredient 3
Running through the centre of all successful people is a rod of steel. the bottom 10 per cent was better than the previous year. No questions. it’s only because of a lack of experience. It is this combination of determination and self-belief – this conviction – which enables them to hold their nerve under pressure and ask more of life than do lesser beings. When I left my job at the BBC. For industrial designer and entrepreneur James Dyson. The same was true for Tim Smit. but these are fleeting. But if they do show a vulnerability in some way. that I could make it work. Even when confronted with a huge potential danger (losing their home. It is this internal locus of control which enables successful people to achieve success even during difficult times. I enjoyed the feeling that I was taking a risk and following my instincts. he had no need to hide the honest truth of what he was doing. but trusted myself to have the qualities necessary to make my business a success. The chaff is continually removed. Star Maker Lucy Harris. even bankruptcy. This means they believe that what happens to them in their life is a direct consequence of their own actions rather than luck or the actions of other people. As Henry Ford put it. Maybe they are saying. deep down. which Enabler Vicki Day has seen a lot of: Sometimes there is a lack of self-esteem. even though they may have moments of human frailty. of blame and of individualism. For some staff. Let’s take Jack Welch as an example. without losing their drive. I didn’t feel brave. ‘I’ll show everyone that I am good’. Sometimes I believe their skin needs to get tougher. ‘This project is dead from the neck up. They know what they or their product is worth and they will back it even when other people tell them it is bound to fail. Why would managers invest time grooming their team to develop greater skills when they could be creating the guy that puts them out of a job? Nevertheless. It is such a contradiction. Only the London Eye and the Tower of London surpass it in popularity. ‘Whether you believe you can do a thing or not. They put themselves into new and uncomfortable situations and enjoy it! Tennis champion Martina Navratilova summed this up as ‘just go out there and do what you’ve got to do’. In the privacy of the changing room. Today it is the third most popular admission-charging visitor attraction in the UK . successful people are determined about what they want to achieve. Those who are most successful at this have an ‘internal locus of control’. this was motivating – what more powerful way to stay focused on excellence than to see people below you lose their jobs each year? If you are motivated by challenge. . They survive rough financial periods. But if you don’t find this kind of ‘threat’ motivational. not a lack of confidence. a headhunter with The Ashton Partnership. to be able to navigate my way around or through any obstacle I encountered. the visionary behind the Eden Project. and this belief has a real effect on the outcome. I didn’t know how exactly. At their core.’ This is called the ‘expectancy effect’ – events that we expect to occur are more likely to occur. But if I am honest.
THE EXPECTANCY EFFECT
A person’s belief that they are right may be more powerful as an ingredient for success than actually being right. you can imagine what his prospective investors said. but out they went. they don’t freak out under pressure. Blend that with ambition and you have a powerful motivational force to take action. His ‘steel’ meant that he would not budge on this. He started working on the idea in 1978 and produced his first Dual Cyclone machine in 1993. Dyson and Smit believe they can make things happen (and that only they are responsible if they fail to make things happen). But his sheer unflinching commitment and belief were so powerful that the investors handed over the money. image consultant and Enabler. steely determination manifested itself in an ambition which many people believed was sheer madness.
Of course. Inevitably each year. but by May 2001 Dyson was responsible for 29 per cent of the vacuum cleaner market by volume and 52 per cent by value. What distinguishes the individuals described in this chapter is that they are genuinely sure of themselves. Star Maker Lucy Harris believes this vulnerability is also part of the recipe for success: The people I see aren’t always thick-skinned. for instance. What makes successful people different from those who are paralysed by their fears is that they have steel. . Why would anyone try to help poor performers? The more poor performers there are. He believed in it and stood by it. He knew the downsides but felt the upsides were more powerful. the safer your job. you could feel it created an environment of fear. While many businesses would batten down the hatches during times of economic instability. because he believed in himself so completely. It is such a bizarre thing when you get them in a private moment. People who had felt safe and secure two or three years earlier were now in the danger zone. they know that the outcome of their life is completely in their own hands. qualities that are often superimposed on the successful. And they are more wonderful because of this quality. I was told endlessly how brave I was to give up the security of a high-flying job with a respected broadcasting company and head out into the world with nothing but my wits and a business plan. you are right. They may have private moments of doubt. The expectation of success spurs belief. and it is in Cornwall. They have an inner belief which gives them the confidence to maintain their focus and we saw in the last chapter how important this ingredient is in the recipe for success. As CEO of US giant corporation General Electric he believed the way to continually upgrade the quality of his organisation was to sack the staff who fell into the lowest-performing 10 per cent each year. Because people like Welch. They stick with their plan. No hesitation. believes that successful people have the mindset to push themselves further than other people: They are comfortable and self-aware that they are the best in their game and know how to use that as a skill. It gave me a buzz because I also knew. they ignore comment and they reassure themselves that they are always doing the best they can. this is what Welch believed at his core. Psychological tests on people intending to give up smoking. When he announced that he was going to take a few acres of a disused former quarry. Sharon Connolly. Steel is not necessarily the same as bravery or courage. sticking two fingers up at everyone else. this is the perfect environment. sees what these executives are afraid to show the rest of the world – that they are human too:
. And. no matter what. pressure and expectation. I was certainly aware of the significant step I was taking and could easily visualise a doomsday scenario where I had to sell my home and move back in with my parents because it had all gone belly-up. losing their business. show that those who believe they can do it are more likely to succeed. those who believe down to their core that only they control their destiny are likely to turn economic downturns into opportunities to grow.’ a Hotpoint executive said when Dyson offered them his vacuum cleaner technology in 1982. losing their position in society). and suffer moments of doubt. meaning you get to work with increasingly high-performing colleagues. But maybe that is also related to their success. That’s a long time to work on a project with no guarantee of success. to follow through and stick with a plan no matter what other people might think and no matter what other obstacles come into your path.
Employers still tend to look for academic qualifications (a degree. ‘Yes. who had been taught he had no power to change his situation. SAT scores. But certainly research shows that compared to intelligence. grit. separated by a low barrier. three dogs were used to explore the importance of optimism to success. whatever they have to do. • take and learn from criticism. compared to their peers who had been praised for effort. they no longer believe that they are intelligent and they lose hope. An Enabler who only lets the very deserving through to see her boss. The first and third dog did just that.
One of the necessary elements of ‘steel’ is optimism – high achievers tend to be optimistic.223 cadets due to enter the class of 2008. • take risks. High-school class rank. that would never be me. writing the letters.1 In order to measure which candidates were most likely to survive the first summer of training at West Point. they’re just going to keep on pushing. and was convinced that he would never follow in their footsteps.’ Those who don’t believe tell their team. they lost motivation. as a result. When children who are praised for their intelligence fail. When these children experienced a failure. it was shown that children who were praised for their intelligence cared more about grades than about learning. ‘Sticking with West Point doesn’t have as much to do with how smart you are as your character. So we tend to do it over a period of months or years. I show them a red tie or a purple shirt and they say. but knew from his childhood that he was going to be called on to make a big contribution. Even intelligence and talent take a back seat to grit. he watched local men coming home from work each day.’ They are already giving everyone an excuse not to achieve. the more they believe this. Many are scared to show people what they are really like. but was able to turn them off by pushing a panel with his nose. keep on making the phone calls. The first dog was administered a series of electric shocks. In Chapter 7 we’ll be looking at the thorny issue of talent and whether having any particularly outstanding skill is part of the recipe for success. From the age of five. just lay down and continued to take the shocks. the more obstacles they overcome and the more they gain evidence that they are right. he says that determination is what sets the successful apart: Julius Caesar had an uncanny belief in himself. climbing one of the great peaks or overcoming personal challenges). determination and steel are more powerful predictors of success.3 Successful people never lie down and take a shock. there is nothing that gives them more confidence than being noticed by the opposite sex. Top PA Deborah Meredith has worked alongside many senior executives. Then all three dogs were placed in a box divided in to two compartments. Those who have doubts don’t achieve as highly as those who say. and being determined to succeed means the battle is half won. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania has led a series of studies in to what she calls ‘grit’ and believes that ‘gritty’ people are more likely to achieve success in school. from watching the men leaving work at the Woolwich Arsenal.4
Professor Graham Jones and Adrian Moorhouse have researched what they refer to as ‘mental toughness’ – the state of mind which differentiates top sporting performers from those who compete but never quite make the grade. thereby reinforcing this emphasis on intelligence and overlooking the huge value of tenacity.
. When the dogs were given another shock. ‘Let’s do our best. A self-described ‘street urchin’ in the years after the Second World War (his father had died in the war and. says she never saw selfdoubt in the most successful people she worked with: These are people who believe they can do it. The second dog was given the same shocks as the first but with no means of escaping. having left school at 14. But it may come down to the fact that I am decisive. Churchill wasn’t a natural top man. Adrian Moorhouse was brought up in a family where personal responsibility was a powerful value. as Chief Executive of GWE Business West and a committed mentor to upcoming talent. but I found that everywhere I went I ended up leading. post-graduate diploma. and until they do. And. In one series of studies at Stanford University. of course.g. we can do that. I know there is an answer and I know what needs to be done. • establish a balanced perspective on strengths and weaknesses. They know they will be able to find a way forward. But the second one. good grades) when recruiting rather than evidence of steely determination through difficulty (e. despite the fact that he was epileptic. In fact. they believe they deserve it. His father was self-made. Believing in your qualities and abilities. they will draw attention to themselves. Those who are praised for effort are often energised in the face of difficulty. work and other areas because their passion and commitment help them to cope with the inevitable obstacles. John lived in significant poverty). one of the greatest impediments to developing this rod of steel may be influential adults who focus their attention on intelligence over all other qualities. ‘I couldn’t!’ They know that whatever they do.They are just normal people who want to look good and are scared about making the wrong impression. I knew.2 In one rather unpleasant piece of research. No matter how successful or business-focused people are. I didn’t set out to do that and I love being in circumstances where I haven’t got to do that. Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis says: They just really believe in the end that they’re going to win. John Savage knew he would have no ordinary job.5 And what does this mentally tough state of mind enable successful individuals to do? Jones and Moorhouse have found that this mental attitude gives exceptional performers the desire and ability to: • set and achieve stretching goals. I am from very ordinary stock. athletic experience and faculty appraisal scores were nowhere near as accurate a predictor as the ‘grit’ study. which is why it is surprising that parents (and society at large) still value academic achievement more highly than effort. and to tackle the weaknesses head on. and always taught his boys that through hard work they could achieve whatever they set out to achieve. It found that ‘grit’ was the single best yardstick for predicting who would survive the academy’s first weeks. all they had to do to escape was jump over the barrier. they believe they can deliver no matter what it takes. Through their study of elite performers they discovered that sustained high performance relies in part on having strong selfbelief and motivation.’ Duckworth concluded. a ‘grit’ questionnaire was completed by all 1. which helps them to stick with an idea even when there are tough obstacles to overcome. Now. The third dog was not given any shocks at all.
(www.366.5. but. Richard Branson and Alan Sugar did not go to university. grit and the tenacity to overcome challenges that get thrown before us. more importance should be placed on personal qualities like ‘steel’ rather than focusing only on academic achievement: There is much research and evidence available to suggest that successful leaders tend to be people who have overcome some level of hardship or challenge in their life.114. Without the determination to turn your opportunities into results.php?term=pto-20051017–000003&page=3) 5 Jones.] 4 Psychology Today magazine. and Adrian Moorhouse. p. Article ID: 3910.com/articles/index. New York: Pocket Books. it is tougher to get to the top without a classic education. • provide a strong foundation for dealing with pressure. And while this book is certainly not a manifesto for high school drop-outs. you are looking for both qualities – intellectual capacity and proof of determination. Nov/Dec 2005. rely on your gritty determination to keep going. the founder of Facebook. • control potentially debilitating fear. Mark Zuckerberg. • Say ‘I will do it’ rather than ‘I will try my best’. (www. • bounce back from setbacks with renewed focus and effort. but to people working in any field.psychologyto-day.psychologytoday. Clearly. Article ID: 3910. relying almost entirely on ‘steel’. as the evidence here shows. I always give credit to people who have taken difficult choices ahead of the easy route in their personal careers. Graham. • Reward hard work in preference to academic paperwork in yourself and others. Ideally. [From Developing Mental Toughness. It can be a sign of clarity of focus and determination. (www. Nov/Dec 2005. Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance.
. Some of our top entrepreneurs have taken this so far that they have very little in the way of academic achievement to show for themselves. Nov/Dec 2005. your education is no more than a piece of paper. such as leaving the workforce to enhance their education or take on a challenge for themselves in some other area of their life. Martin E. having the right degree is optional. p. even in the corporate world. Learned Optimism: How to change your mind and your life. dropped out of Harvard University when the business began to take off.• make decisions without fear of being wrong.3.php?term=pto-20051017–000003&page=3) 3 Seligman. • Be optimistic by gathering evidence of your previous successes. Key Holder Phil Taylor believes that.3–5. The only question you should have now is ‘Do I want to succeed badly enough?’
• Believe in yourself and your ability.
1 Psychology Today magazine. whereas having the right mindset for success is not. Article ID: 3910. be it professional or personal. Dragons’ Den’s Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 with no ‘O’ levels. p. Oxford: Spring Hill. 1998. 2007. pp. In the corporate world. • create a positive future. • Develop an ‘internal locus of control’ by taking personal responsibility when events turn out well or turn out badly.com/articles/index. P. this finding applies not only to sportspeople. the right degree won’t guarantee you a place at the board. of course. • When all else fails. p.psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-20051017–000003&page=3) 2 Psychology Today magazine.
to taking a chance with someone they haven’t worked with before. you are off to a more solid start. in the mix are your behaviours. I also look at their track record. the international public relations company. about trusting yourself – knowing that you are capable of success and combining that with the determination to turn that self-trust into results. This was very confusing for the new senior team at ABC. so this is relevant to you. but your track record may not back up your claims. If you have a team of well-adjusted individuals. You may influence minds. others do not. They are more open to different flavours. Feelings and evidence are in play here. But as long as the only evidence of their commitment was words.2 • Credibility (which is about words). As a motivation. . if your team is poorly adjusted and sees the world as a threatening place. your parents. Roughly half of all managers don’t trust their leaders and four out of five members of the public have ‘only some’ or ‘hardly any’ confidence in people running major corporations. deal with customers or clients. successful performers focus on what they can control. Some people make you feel comfortable. and you cannot control the happiness of other people. your friends or your colleagues happy. you will be in the minority. Over time your initial feelings about a person can be questioned as the evidence in their favour or against them builds. you develop an ability to sense bull. After all. But people seeking reassurance and facts about what the future holds will find you a ‘maverick’ . I am not able to tell whether what I am being told makes sense. However. ‘I can trust her to do something’. I have worked with companies where trust has been seriously damaged by previous generations of managers. This is about being able to relate to people on a one-to-one basis. you will need the support of Star Makers. This is about tangible. Some trusters are risk intolerant and will only trust people who they believe will offer safety and security. are making a wide range of calculations constantly about how trustworthy you are. As we saw in Chapter 2. . safe or inspired. Oli has developed his own mechanism over time for judging whether to trust someone. • Self-orientation (which is about motives). Maister identifies four dimensions to trust. It was only when staff began to see actions. you will need to build trust over a longer period. trust is diminished. cynicism and even obstinacy. Power is also a factor affecting trust. And I ask myself. Are you all ‘talk’ or do you consistently turn your words into results? • Intimacy (which is about emotions). it took many months of continually being challenged to prove their commitment before the staff started to accept them at their word. Key Holder and serial entrepreneur Oli Barrett needs to make relatively quick decisions about whom to trust when he is approached by someone looking for advice. People may enjoy your company a great deal. But while people don’t need to like you. keep your boss on side. they were doing nothing to build trust. and lots of them. You cannot guarantee that your actions will make other people happy. But all of us get an initial taste of what someone is like by combining the ‘feeling’ we have about people and the ‘evidence’ we gather into a powerful guiding force. the people looking at you and deciding whether they trust you or not. ‘I feel comfortable discussing this with that person’. put themselves out for you and stand by you during difficult times in a more reliable and sustainable way than they would if they simply like you. people may have a history of your impressive achievements but can’t connect with you on a personal basis. In fact. and not in a good way.1 If you are able to get other people to trust you then you are already setting yourself apart as someone special. a new leadership team was appointed. ‘I can trust what he says’. People in a position of authority are far more likely to trust others because they can always fire them. it met with resistance. If I don’t know the first thing about the Web but I am trying to connect people in that field. Wanting everyone to like you will prevent you from being objective when you need to give critical feedback or when you need to persevere despite the cynicism of others and when you become more successful than the people around you and face resentment as a result. Equally. Equally. professional expertise. All of these can all influence how trustworthy you appear at any one time. Instead. your children. the need to be liked may be an obstacle to success. the more they communicated. If they are more concerned with themselves and their needs. Others enjoy the spiciness of risk and tend to have faith that things will work out. You don’t have to manage people directly to be a leader: anyone who is successful leads in one way or another. If you spend a lot of time with people. If you are a risk-seeker. leaders cannot function without trust. • Reliability (which is about actions). and one of which reduces them. the members of the team were not responsible for what went before. people who are well-adjusted and comfortable with themselves and the world. assistance or a contact: There is a lot of gut feel in that decision to trust. They had arrived in a poorly adjusted environment and had expected trust to be bestowed because they knew their own motivations were genuine. one of the Financial Times top 40 business thinkers in the world. In one company (let’s call it ABC Manufacturing). ‘What does this person care about?’ If the person seems to focus on the other person in the relationship. in the hope that its arrival would be enough to spark a new era. Your own attitude towards risk will be relevant here. the more negative the response from the shop floor became. you will tend to attract other risk-takers or people who believe their own cautionary approach is not serving them well. take less time to trust others. three of which increase levels of trust. But their words landed on stony ground.
GETTING OTHER PEOPLE TO TRUST YOU
Trust means that other people will take risks for you. You may also need to manage a team. A survey of Americans in 2002 by GolinHarris. in part.Ingredient 4
Steel is. Key Holders and Enablers at the very least. You can’t achieve any of this without our next ingredient: trust. did they begin to contemplate the possibility that these leaders really meant what they said. But what if you are the only one who believes you have what it takes? Can you be successful without the support and trust of others? As we have already seen. According to David Maister. ‘Does what they are saying make sense in relation to what I’ve seen?’ That’s why it is important to be knowledgeable about the area in which you work. the track record that Oli Barrett mentioned. If you are doing something to make your partner. found that 69 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement: ‘I just don’t know who to trust any more’. Trust is not static. ‘Trusters’. relate to other people in your industry. Even then. the needs and character of the truster and the situation. the ‘need to please’ is potentially very harmful. your motivation is likely to wane over time and result in high levels of personal stress. maybe even develop relationships with the media. The ‘need to please’ means you will find it very tough to make good decisions. you may be an agent of change in your industry or in the world. Everyone had loved them in their previous jobs. they do need to trust you. It is not necessary for people to like you. develop strong relationships with peers. In fact. trust increases. This is about whether you are dependable and behave in consistent ways. And they thought they had communicated well to their new employees how committed they were to turning the company around. or you may have people who rely on you for their livelihoods. This is where our feelings about people are so powerful. demote them or make their lives a
. And if you are able to inspire trust.
There are huge emotions involved in a senior appointment. poorly adjusted and powerless. at interview stage. We assume they will behave like us. too. and power – the need to influence). McClelland also saw that there were drawbacks to such a commitment to achievement. I will. says people might not like you. And. Erratic behaviour is unsettling so where we believe we understand each other we feel more secure. And such behaviour is motivated. So what I won’t deal with is false emotions. They can live with the fact that they might not be loved . concluding that leaders who were motivated by socialised power – the need to help people feel stronger and more capable – were actually most effective. Their drive to achieve is expected to inspire those around them and. You see bullying portrayed on some of these current TV programmes.
TRUST SHORT-CUTS AND THE NEED TO ACHIEVE
In situations where it is difficult to win people’s trust. can take a long time to build if trusters are cautious. People Like Us share the same values. this drive to achieve is innate.3 However. and that they are made fairly. they would prefer to see someone else’s head on the block. what would she think? And: • How would I feel if everything I was doing was printed in the newspaper?5 If you have a clear conscience then you are in a positive place for developing trust. Often they are identified as ‘high potential’ by their organisation and put into positions of leadership. In countries where the concern for achievement dropped. reduced trust and morale have a direct impact of productivity and confidence in the management. And if you cannot fulfil your promises. although they would probably prefer one or two around them who love them. having a variety of opinions and perspectives is vital to generate fresh ideas and make good decisions (see Chapter 5). However.
So. successful people are able to find connections with others that can make anyone. She doesn’t have patience with people who lack integrity: It is not in my nature to block people’s way. demonstrate reliability and present results. Most people in our culture are taught to value achievement. Integrity means holding oneself to a set of high moral principles. as we have seen. They will play competitive sports or take part in quizzes as long as there is a prize (a certificate will do) at the end. Why would you want to work in that kind of environment? It clearly does work for some people. companies looking to the future. So. Only when they can see how decisions are made. And while pushing and prodding staff can work in the short term.4 In later work. someone demonstrates they cannot be trusted. Dishonesty is also a huge threat to trust. Leaders in such cultures rely on a directive or pacesetting style. what qualities are a big yes-yes? People tend to trust others who seem similar to them. in a large part. They do not bother investing the time to generate a culture of trust. explain why honestly and fully. it isn’t a strategy that John Savage would promote: I have found that you can get the same discipline and the same degree of bravery if you simply enlighten people. it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of headhunter Lucy Harris.misery if they are let down. People might not invite you to their wedding but they do trust you and they do respect you. feel like they have something in common. but I would contend it doesn’t get the best out of them. Dishonesty comes in many forms. for a short time. In fact. huge expectations. but if they trust you. you can get things done: If you don’t have trust you can’t engage an organisation. This is not to say that everyone in an organisation or everyone in your circle must be a carbon copy of you. Phil Taylor. We see such short-cuts being attempted on television programmes like The Apprentice. and feel better about themselves when they have proof of accomplishment. Her reputation relies on her finding the best candidate for a senior post. achievement was the most critical to organisational success. . don’t go to the 5th interview and sign the contract and let them think you are going to start. Overpromising and underdelivering are amongst the most common mistakes which undermine trust. Demonstrating integrity (basically the opposite of the dishonesty Lucy Harris observed) is also vital for developing trust. People with this as an innate motivator are sometimes willing to cut corners or even cheat to achieve their goal. there was often a decline in economic welfare. the same interests or the same personality traits and therefore we feel we can predict how they will behave in a variety of circumstances. some leaders try a short-cut. If. Most people like to be liked but in terms of pursuing a mission I think they understand that it is important to be trusted. no matter how diverse they may be in some aspects. found that people who were well-intentioned. . therefore. Robert F. Those without authority are always taking a much greater risk when they trust other people and are. They pursue work that is competitive. the types of behaviour seen on The Apprentice are not limited to television portrayals of leadership. If you are not genuinely interested in taking up an appointment. It would be very lonely otherwise. fast.6 It is far better to underpromise and overdeliver. don’t string people along. who cared passionately about their work but were led by their enthusiasm to promise more than they could deliver are not trusted by colleagues because of their poor track records. In his research into trust. are powerless individuals able to trust those with more power. but if they lose. professor of management at Fordham University in New York. according to research by Hay Group. Leaders for a particular challenge are chosen reluctantly by a group of people who do not want to be led. These are not ideal circumstances for trust to develop. However. A good test of integrity is to ask oneself the following questions: • If my mother knew everything I was doing. This is reassuring. by another characteristic commonly found in ambitious people – the need for achievement. When organisations are led by people motivated by achievement. the same background. He found that in countries with a high concern for achievement one often saw rapid economic growth. One of the reasons levels of trust in the business world are so low is because of ethical failures in companies like Enron and WorldCom. it often does. preferring to force or intimidate others into following them. They get a particular buzz from achieving and will create opportunities to do so. you must do. whatever you say you are going to do. But if I see dishonesty. They either tell people what to do or do it themselves. they are seen in the workplace too. And for some people. Gaining trust in such circumstances involves working tirelessly to challenge assumptions. Hurley. Trust. Vice President of Human Resources for Mattel. The more we have in common with another person the more we will trust them. the ends are often seen to justify the means. more cautious. Research carried out by Harvard psychologist David McClelland in the 1960s initially showed that of the three motivations (the others being affiliation – the need to belong. and under certain circumstances. Such shows do not allow either the time or the conditions for trust to grow. if dishonesty is a real no-no when it comes to engendering trust. They want to win. McClelland changed his mind.
59. • Be honest in your dealings. Robert F. p. Consequently Carole and her team know that they can trust him to fulfil his promises.
. Those who inspire trust demonstrate through their actions what they are capable of. Howard.Literary agent Carole Blake described how one of her authors.74. anything that will make them improve. p. However. reading around the subject. it is not enough to talk about how talented and effective you are. But worse is miscommunication or no communication.
1 Hurley. • Understand who your trusters are and what qualities they need to see in you before they are ready to trust you. and Scott W. Successful people are always checking what messages are being received and ensuring that they are understood completely. But how we communicate when things go wrong – when our cake fails to rise as it were – will contribute to whether or not we survive the exposé.56.’ p.. Sharon Connolly. ‘Leadership Run Amok: The Destructive Potential of Overachievers’. as we have already seen. In a company where results are not widely communicated. one another: You need to think about who you are trying to impact upon. • Do not let your need for achievement overpower your personal recipe. 4 Fontaine.. One factor which massively increases trust. Ruth L. ‘The Decision to Trust’. They are interested in personal development. In the worst cases. Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review. Some people can do that in jeans and a t-shirt and look wrong in an Armani suit. • Communicate effectively but concisely: aim for quality over quantity. but people do have to trust you if you are going to be successful.com/podcasts. • Underpromise and overdeliver. And communication is a valuable tool to improve trust. 2 http://davidmaister. and Scott W. • Hone your ability so that you have the capability to do what needs to be done. staff will suspect that leaders have something to hide. in many situations. talk without substance is bad for trust. Sending out e-mails or reports which are not read or are difficult to navigate is not communication. an image consultant and Enabler who advises influential executives on how to dress. September 2006.
• You may not be to everyone’s taste personally. Leaders regularly underestimate what communication actually entails and are then surprised when their staff distrust them. June 2006. If you cannot deliver.55. Harvard Business Review. they take books and articles to a beach with them when they are on holiday. • Do not commit acts which you would not want your loved ones or the press to know about. believes that clothes have a powerful impact on how people perceive. but they have people they speak to – peers. In fact. Morale will be affected and eventually so will results. In fact. The very word implies getting the message across. a long lunch with someone they respect – they don’t have the time for navel gazing but they want to keep on pushing the boundaries. ‘Leadership Run Amok: The Destructive Potential of Overachievers’. Harvard Business Review. How you dress is actually a form of communication. such talk tends to undermine credibility. explain why honestly. Whether your ambition is to be a movie star. Ruth L. Spreier. This reflects well on the literary agency as well as the author and therefore Carole is more likely to go out of her way for clients who behave as professionally as this. Robert F. p. Numbers will be bandied about. attended a full day of readings despite having food poisoning. June 2006. is ability. a millionaire author or mother-ofthe-year.76. But I would always suggest you dress a little bit smarter than your counterparts because it makes you look more senior. ‘The Ethical Mind. it matters less whether you connect on a personal level with someone than that they know what they are doing (a heart surgeon for instance). September 2006. lack of communication can actually lead to poor results when the company was initially doing quite well. As we saw earlier. Executive PA Deborah Meredith says that the most successful people she has worked with are always trying to improve their performance. 5 Gardner. He could easily have spent the day in his hotel room but he did not want to let his hosts down and did not want to imply that the local cuisine was anything but delicious. March 2007 6 Hurley. Mallory. None of us is perfect and few of us would be completely happy with having every detail of our work or life published in the press for our Mum to see. People have the feeling you are in charge. Rumours will start about the financial position of the company. what you are trying to say about yourself. They are never complacent about their abilities: They are learning from their peers. on a reading tour of Spain. Mary H. and therefore. People tend to fill the gaps in their knowledge with gossip. honest and sensitive communication will buy you a lot of trust. Mallory.archives/5/55 3 Fontaine. Spreier. Harvard Business Review. ‘The Decision to Trust. • Build genuine rapport by finding connections between yourself and other people. rumour or fear. they have extensive bookshelves. trust. maybe not the way the majority of us would recognise. And this is vital outside the world of big business too. Mary H. mentors.’ p. People will begin talking about redundancy or receivership. You need to look as if you are already successful.
so versatile. how to prep vegetables. They fill in the gaps in their own ability by finding or developing other people. with people who also share their passion. You need to gather data. no one is a success all by themselves. there isn’t enough room for quiet contemplation: there’s clearly a lot of talk going on. It may even be different to asking what you are good at. It is fantastic to be an enthusiastic extrovert who encourages other people to get behind your vision and start talking about possibilities.
WHERE IS THE GAP?
The purpose of your ‘kitchen cabinet’ – typically an informal group of trusted advisors – is to fill in the gaps in your own ability and knowledge so that. Top people have the ability to surround themselves with other talent. others who have a knack for buying and selling but can’t communicate to a large audience and a few who are original thinkers with brilliant ideas but get bored quickly when it comes to running a business long term.
This leads to the second consideration. It is time to take a long hard look at what your natural talents are. Without taking the analogy too far. As Ralph Larsen. As Phil Taylor puts it: There are very few things you can achieve on your own. consider the input of others. This indicates whether they are more practical or more creative.3 the higher leaders rise. Equally. simply something I have learnt to do because I appreciate its importance. But the ‘kitchen cabinet’ is an ingredient you have to find outside of yourself and getting your hands on the right calibre and mixture is key to your success. having timescales and deadlines in order to resolve issues. No matter how great their expertise. And anyone further down the hierarchy of the business who is a different type from you will feel confused by your behaviour. for you to construct your perfect cabinet from within your business. you become invincible. And the same is true for all the other qualities.Ingredient 5
All good cooks have a well-stocked larder full of complementary ingredients and staples. so perfect that they can reach the top without support and help from other people.1 most of us have ways we prefer to relate to one another. which means they are in greater need of advisers who can provide honest and expert opinions. how to bake bread. According to Saj-nicole A. But behind the scenes. Will anyone give you their honest opinion if that means their job will become redundant? Will anyone tell give you feedback if they know this will result in a smaller budget for their department next year?
. Joni. Others prefer more flexibility. nor wise. with smart people. And this small network relies very heavily on the leader for their future well-being.9 per cent certain that the decision you are about to make is correct. but they will never excel in that section as they do in their own. If you are a gut-feel decision-maker. these individuals rely heavily on a formal and informal team of experts. which means they can adapt or modify their plans as they go to suit changing situations. And some people are more structured and organised. A meal might be built around a lovely roast beef or fillet of salmon. The successful people we have heard of might be the headliners – your Anita Roddicks or your Donald Trumps. I enjoy playing the piano. All trainee chefs spend time in every part of the kitchen – they will learn how to make desserts. Other people rely largely on their gut and make decisions based on their beliefs. the ingredients needed for your recipe are found within you. Are you someone who prefers to work alone and think things through for yourself. We can learn to be good at activities that are not natural talents. the more impact their decisions have on greater numbers of people. they will always be influenced in their advice by its impact on their own lives. how to make sauces. Some people make decisions in an analytical way. ways we prefer to gather and use information. the greens and the seasoning to make it into a feast. If you simply ignore the facts (or ignore the people who give you the facts). you will need people who can advise you that the time for decision making has come. but it is impossible to be a specialist at every aspect. It may not be possible. ways we make decisions and ways we organise ourselves and other people. but it will never be a natural talent. you may risk making wildly risky decisions. Alternatively. ‘At the point when you’ve gathered enough data to be 99. Few individuals have the capacity to do both with equal vigour and your cabinet can help you to get the balance right. They focus as much of their time and energy as possible on the parts of the business that they excel in and they focus on their areas of strength rather than their areas of weakness. but you will always find some who are brilliant communicators yet hopeless at the number crunching. that decision has become obsolete. with their insight and expertise.’2 The right balance between assessing the facts and acting fast is vital to success. Chair and CEO of Johnson & Johnson put it. setting up objective decision-making criteria and choosing solutions which meet those criteria. According to work by TMS Development International Ltd. if you tend to pore over details for long periods. you will need to construct a cabinet which contains the full variety of personality types. details and pre-tested ideas while others prefer generating their own ideas and working with more ambiguous situations. you will want to ensure you have some analytical decision-makers around you. They engage themselves with people who can help them achieve. So far. Depending on your preferences. And then they build a cabinet of people with different natural talents from their own. No one is so multi-talented. while we might not always excel at what we enjoy and might have ability outside our natural strengths. The problem is that that they tend to look to a small number of people on their staff who they have grown to trust over a period of years. which may be different to asking yourself what you enjoy. all as talented and skilful in their own area of expertise as the star. We all have limitations and successful people know their talents and the limits of those talents. But if that is the prevalent style in your business. how to cook fish. For instance. but most will find a section where they excel. They will be flexible enough to stand in for a colleague if necessary. This is not the same as being shy or confident. or are you someone who prefers to talk about ideas while working alongside other people? This will give you clues as to whether you are introvert or extrovert.
WORK STYLE PREFERENCES
Most people have quite clear innate work preferences. However. we generally enjoy and are good at those tasks where we have an innate gift (there are some exceptions which we will learn about in Chapter 7 on Talent). some people prefer to work with facts. but refers to the way we relate to other people. they have to learn about aspects of their business which may not turn them on and they have to develop skills outside their natural talent. but how much action? Ideas may be thrown about but no one sits down long enough with one of them to think properly about their viability. but I am not particularly good at it. The most successful people build their careers around their natural talents and passions. often finding the evidence to support their view afterwards. Of course. Having people close to you who have a variety of styles means that there is always someone in the business or linked to the business whom those different personalities can connect with. All successful people have an overview of their business and their industry (as we will see in Chapter 8). most of us have a tendency to be introvert or extrovert. but you need the potatoes. And I am quite good at carrying out research.
Chairman of the United Bristol Healthcare Trust and holder of other significant board roles. a PA. especially those from outside their organisation. Successful people understand that there will be turnover and are always adjusting the membership of their cabinet to fill the gaps that are left by departed members. However. but bring different skill sets to bear. because I won’t be affected by the final decision. It is one of the reasons I rarely work with media companies.” said the late French president Charles de Gaulle. who provides PR services for retail professionals. but because everyone is a strong person they can stand up to each other. a book-keeper. people who have no personal stake in the advice they give and are therefore in a position of structural trust. He believes the best way to surround yourself with a solid team is to develop your own talent. But they will be if you work with them. therefore. but with a lot of things you have to show them what needs to be done. In her article ‘The Geography of Trust’. however. As an Enabler. what other qualities should you consider when building a ‘kitchen cabinet’? Obviously. Even when making senior appointments. even decades. Enabler Vicki Day. they knew they were delivering as a team. You are responsible for fewer people’s livelihood and. in addition to objectivity. And.
. they have good instincts. you are also looking for people whom you connect with at some level. give me the manual. may remain in their circle for many years. My background in journalism means that my own feelings about the industry cloud my objectivity. the more interested those friends are likely to become. Sometimes her advice will inhibit company growth and she needs to be able to express this opinion objectively without concern for the effect that company stagnation will have on her annual bonus. The old cliché is that opposites attract. He knew that he wouldn’t keep many of his prodigies for long – many would be attracted to the bright lights of London. Some advisers. whose primary role is connecting people who may be able to assist one another in business. I can apply my expertise without becoming overly sensitive to the implications of that expertise. The downside of developing such a strong team of successful people within your business is that they may eventually leave you to lead their own project or organisation.’4 Advisers in positions of the highest structural trust are generally found outside organisations in order to ensure they are not tainted by self-interest or the culture of the organisation or industry. You can’t run a hospital of 7. In order to deliver their role and properly carry out their responsibilities. That’s why some of your best advisers will come from outside your business. He attracted fresh new talent straight out of journalism school to work with him at BBC Newcastle. This is the approach taken by mentor and strategist John Savage. ‘Yeah. and the rest are rewarded in a purely reciprocal way – I give them advice and they return the favour. we saw what it takes to win the trust of others. Now you are the one wondering whom to trust. knowing they have the protection of the Board so that their mistakes are not devastating for us. they need others. values in his business relationships: The smartest entrepreneurs have recruited people who are in love with the company’s main cause. I have a coach. You are looking for people who are technically competent and reliable. according to Enabler Deborah Meredith: Top people need their team. but to have good will and affection which keeps you going in tough times. In a pharmaceutical company or a manufacturing business. they never regarded themselves as the kingpin. they need its insight. One way to develop your cabinet is to ‘build it yourself’. he still commits to working with the individual to hone their abilities to suit his and the organisation’s needs. even if that means they lose their best people: Real entrepreneurs and leaders encourage other people to be entrepreneurs and leaders. No one knows everything. I have a sense of perspective which isn’t muddied by my own personal experience. you have to show people. but on whether it is legal and ethical. And because he was always generous in helping them to develop their talent and supportive in their ambitions. I am not sure that’s true – you have to have sufficient ingredients in common to get on. the radio station which serves the North East of England. These views make it rather difficult for me to remain non-judgemental when I work with news editors and broadcasting company executives. In addition. And the more interested those friends become.
FROM TRUSTEE TO TRUSTER
So. Leaders do have friends. You need people around you who are going to make your business life easier and who make you want to go to work. They have other clients and can therefore afford to be quite honest in their feedback to me. In my first BBC job. Stuart Rose [at M&S] has this team of key people. people often stayed at the station for a little longer than they would have done otherwise. People move location. I have rather strong views about the way the news is gathered and the way stories are presented and found the culture of the broadcasting companies I worked for actually suffocated creativity and originality. their enthusiasm and their creativity. says the most successful leaders encourage ambition. they have interests. In Chapter 4. we are looking for people who meet the same criteria as we ourselves need to meet in order to gain trust. Some of these top people actually go through a lot of staff because they don’t so much surround themselves with successful people but they allow other people to become successful with them and then move on. This is something that Key Holder Oli Barrett. For instance. they change direction or they just get too busy to invest their time. Those of us who work in a small business or a situation where we work primarily on our own are protected slightly from this phenomenon because most of our cabinet will be made up of external advisers. so the same considerations apply.A corporate lawyer recently told me that her bonus was not linked to company profits. But it is important to have like-minded people in a business. it will be easier for you to find people in positions of structural trust. I remember someone I worked with getting very frustrated at me when I told her to grow up. We tend to be greatly influenced by those who have moulded us. But for the time he had them. But even though the people I have worked for were key people. Sometimes there are clashes. I can be honest in my opinions. the less leaders should rely solely upon their counsel. an agent.’ And I realised that’s what you have to do. If you are still on your way up in whatever field you hope to succeed. the DIY approach does mean you risk only exposing yourself to opinions developed in your own shadow. She threw back at me. Give one of these leaders a yes-man and he’ll walk all over him. They all nurture and grow other people. he would have access to their talent.
A STRONG CABINET
It is never too soon to start building your ‘kitchen cabinet’. Charlie Wilson and Steven Sharp. qualities that you can only judge over time. unlike those who work in the business. And they often choose people who are very strong who they can identify with. people can be honest with you without risk to themselves. Of course. not necessarily to be best friends. How do you ensure that you aren’t surrounded by a cabinet of yes-men? It is all about how you mould and develop your team. Humans have instincts too. there is still turnover even in a completely external cabinet. he believes most people need help in order to perform to a high level: You can’t run an organisation on your own. Even the most gifted of people are not fully equipped to do the job. Invariably. Knowing that people will stand up to you builds respect. but the greater the leaders’ power. Others will gain valuable experience under their tutelage and then move on. which is very common in her field because a lawyer’s advice should not be based on whether a course of action will grow the business. various mentors and a network of business owners in my cabinet. Those who are paid to be part of that team are all freelance and do not rely on me solely for their income.000 employees unless you allow people to make a few mistakes and learn from those mistakes. protected us and given us a leg-up. Joni writes ‘“Nations don’t have friends. I had an inspirational boss called Tony Fish. Animals are programmed very well.
February 2001. Saj-nicole A.3. never becoming overly reliant on individuals who may. • Sift out people who do not meet your rigorous guidelines when choosing who to trust. March 2004. Alden M. p. • Be prepared for some cabinet members to evaporate and be willing to add new ones that are to your taste. • Take time to stew over your own natural strengths and weaknesses.relationships forged now can grow in strength with time (as long as nothing changes the nature of the relationship. advice and support. Saj-nicole A. Harvard Business Review. ‘The Geography of Trust’. e. have a huge amount of sensitive information and little compunction to respect its confidential nature.
. • Look beyond your backyard for cabinet members with a high degree of structural trust. You will be tripped up by your own weaknesses and no-one will be obliged to point out why this keeps happening. you become the boss of someone who used to be a peer). ‘The Geography of Trust’. p.
KITCHEN CABINET RECIPE
• Just as a slab of prime rib isn’t a dish on its own.tmsdi. 3 Joni. p.83. ‘When to Trust Your Gut’. • Sprinkle your cabinet with people who mask your weaknesses. as circumstances change.g.82 Harvard Business Review. • Stir your cabinet occasionally to remove cabinet members who no longer meet your needs. Harvard Business Review. you can’t be a success without help.
1 See www. March 2004 4 Joni.com for more information 2 Hayashi. In maintaining a cabinet you must always keep your wits about you. trusting no one leaves you isolated and vulnerable. On the other hand.
most inevitably have to stay where they are or opt out of the game (only to join another hierarchy somewhere else). they may try. impress and convince key decision-makers. forget their roots and turn their backs on their friends in the organisation if they step up to the next level and. . . Those who keep their jobs aren’t just lucky. But if it is about engaging others to do what you think is the right thing. you need to be good at it. Politics certainly has a bad name – it is associated with lying. Someone – a Star Maker. of course. Just as the best wild mushrooms can transform even a slice of toast into a feast and the worst wild mushrooms can kill you. when jobs are lost. many talented. The development of careers . back-stabbing and wheeler-dealing of the smoke-filled room. . but it won’t work for long). a friend who tells you everything that is wrong with you whether you asked for her opinion or not. While it might be fairest to promote people (or offer a book deal or a recording contract) based purely on ability. Leaders can’t just tell subordinates what to do any more (well. they don’t want to progress. the academic Abraham Zaleznik put it like this: Organisations are political structures which . a number of other considerations are also taken into account. So in local government there will be protocols and established ways of doing things which are. unsurprisingly. the family member who sets up conflict and then stands back to watch the sparks fly. who then. original thinkers exclude themselves from the senior ranks and business is all the poorer for that. but is much more about staying positive so that you are in a position to influence how things turn out in the future. they have stared reality in the face and made plans for the future. politics is a reality in our world.2Choosing which face to present to your workmates may seem Machiavellian. As some people rise up the ranks. folks. You think about how you engage others.Ingredient 6
As the ‘kitchen cabinet’ concept is often used in a political context. And someone who understands politics and can play the game effectively will be able to influence. It isn’t just found in the corridors of power at Westminster or in the corridors of the 29th floor in mega-corporations but in every industry and every walk of life. might have the edge over someone who does not.’ And the competing editors are thinking the same. a family member who refuses to ‘make nice’ at a big get-together. you aren’t axed. I do it when I am trying to get a new publisher interested in one of my authors or when I am talking to the heads of the bookselling chains. Consequently. That is because hierarchies are pyramids: there are fewer people at the top than further down. the ability to play politics may be even more vital to survival. This may be why many of my more junior clients have stated that. As we have already seen. depends on the accumulation of power as the vehicle for transforming individual interests into activities which influence other people. My definition of politics is thinking about what you want to communicate. you get lots of approaches from other editors for that writer. . If that is political. energetic. put their name forward or recommend them to the decision-maker.1 In times of recession. We all do it when we decide who to say hello to in the morning. And that’s politics. We suspect that decisions made in a political environment are based on the power and influence of unknown parties behind the scenes and there is a lack of transparency. it depends what you mean by politics. You can’t be explicit about it but you are constantly ratcheting up the game. But perhaps it is important to clarify our terms and make a distinction between ‘good politics’ and ‘bad politics’. and why they might object so that you can address them effectively. I believe we could cut a third of the cost of local authority provisions without a shadow of a doubt if it weren’t for this culture. Equally though. Ability to do the job will be valued. they’ll choose a congenial colleague over one who is more capable but less lovable. rate them and be willing to assist them. It’s just working with other people. you need to think about how to get your message across. why do they have certain opinions and how do I communicate and engage with them in a way that helps me bring about the right thing to do. Writing in the Harvard Business Review in 1970. we all know people who are so duplicitous that it is impossible to figure out where they stand and what they think – the colleague who sucks up to anyone with power. it seems appropriate now to turn to (what can be) the sour taste of our next ingredient: politics. People saying they won’t play politics is ludicrous. they want to be convinced of the arguments. then yes. . I will move him. provide platforms for the expression of individual interests and motives. Enabler John Savage works in a political environment with both a small ‘p’ and a big ‘P’: Politics is about understanding the regimes and pressures that make things happen. We’ve all met people who are so determined not to be political that they sabotage themselves and their ability to get things done – a colleague who insists on ‘speaking his mind’ whenever he gets in front of the boss. ethical. Someone with more power or influence has to open a door. Politics corrupts even the most moral of individuals. They fear they will inevitably have to sacrifice their integrity. the skill of the negotiator and the talent of the long-view strategist . people with differing views about the right course of action need to conduct a campaign of persuasion. at the right moment. No one can achieve any level of success if they are completely unknown. All the experts I asked about politics for this book said that it was naïve to think you could be successful without this ingredient. ‘good politics’ entails the art of persuasion. Key Holder or Enabler – has to have heard of them. but other considerations might be more valued. Phil Taylor from Mattel believes getting politics right means looking at the definition of the word: Of course. Acting like a survivor by putting on a confident and cheerful face can mean. meaning they are more likely to be seen as the winning candidate for a job or to have the winning argument in a case of conflicting views. as I believe it to be. You have a purpose and a message and a mission and you need to engage other people to bring that to fruition. they are reluctant to pay this price. Therefore. they want to be won over. Employees want to know why. I’ve spent a lot of time understanding the culture and going along with it in order to. I think. Authors have to do it when they are expected to turn into publicity animals to promote a book and then go back into a quiet room to write the next one. They will make a note of the departure and call me in a few months to see how things are going. . where are their thoughts at this point in time. someone who respects the etiquette of the environment by speaking appropriately or dressing acceptably. If you are trying to get a corporation to invest millions of dollars. misleading and selfish motivations. The perception is that politics is about people scheming and conniving – that it has something Machiavellian about it and some people do behave in that way. if promotion within the organisation means ‘playing politics’. Star Maker and literary agent Carole Blake accepts that she and her authors need to have a political awareness: You have to be able to play the game even if you hate it. convince their people to back you. to me. get them enlightened or to use the
. or it might mean winning around one or two people on the board or a small group of informal centres of influence. However.
WHY ARE WE POLITICAL?
Most walks of life are competitive. Like it or not. If one of my author’s editors leaves a publishing house. in turn. This might mean winning around the majority of the staff. when people need help getting a job done. to create a powerful constituency within their organisation who will press for their course of action. then you have to be political to be successful. very obviously wrong. ‘If my author isn’t happy by this time next year. or someone who inspires trust. Another reason why politics may be more common in today’s work environment is that the days of ‘command and control’ leadership are gone. While everyone prefers working with a personable superstar to an incompetent jerk. while ‘bad politics’ entails the manipulation. the friend who bitches behind someone’s back and is all air-kisses in their company.
They realise that telling the whole blunt truth is unlikely to get the desired result.
IF YOU DON’T USE IT . inspire and connect with the people around you. But as we have already seen. uncensored and unmanaged.5 And this is one of the reasons why successful people often choose their clothes with care. if you don’t use it. as Shakespeare recognised long ago. and is willing to risk his personal esteem to influence others . you’re not leading if no one else is following). Enabler Sharon Connolly. The message would have been: We don’t trust you and you don’t trust us. ‘Well. BAD POLITICS
It is important to distinguish between the different types of behaviour which characterise ‘good politics’ and ‘bad politics’. your power is still intact. This ability to adapt your style and approach in order to connect applies whoever you are trying to influence. As Goffee and Jones put it: Most great leaders have highly developed social antennae: they use a complex mix of cognitive and observational skills to recognise what followers are consciously – and unconsciously – signalling to them. And we’re not confident that the situation is going to improve. when you really need it. So ‘good politics’ entails some ‘flexibility’ in your personal style. so you need to be seen for the right reasons. Most requests do not result in a
. They know what will work best in a particular environment.3 In other words. a sense of humour. If you have power and the ability to influence. Humans are very intuitive and will sense when someone is playing a role that isn’t really an expression of themselves. The managers decided not to do this.’ The leader has to find some more convincing argument which looks as though he or she is interested in the common good. But. Leaders can’t just say to their team. When people are networking. In fact. This means you will have to present different faces to different audiences. if someone blends in to the background. when people get politics wrong. you need to tell people about it and that’s often why people look at their clothes and make some changes. an attrition occurs in his power base. Part of your authority is gone and you have to start all over again to rebuild it. it is partly because they have tried to be all things to all people . the belief that by being yourself you are more effectively able to motivate. We tend not to trust this kind of person and. an outside interest or attendance at the same church/golf club/university alumni reunion. Trust began to improve and so did results. OK. Your track record is tarnished and you have to work hard to win people back over. it also comes from the authority we gain as a result of experience and track record. people will continue to reward you with authority and influence. none of which is a true expression of their authentic self. It might be something in your past which people can connect with.’4 The difficulty is getting the right balance between adapting your style in order to effectively bring about change. you lose it. speaking your mind on every issue in a blunt and unmanaged way can be a highly ineffective way to bring about the changes you think are necessary. So. A leader relies on the authority granted to him or her by their formal position and by his or her followers. . ‘I agree with this course of action even though you won’t like it and some of you will lose your job. we all have a need to use the power we possess to its fullest extent. Are they trying to shock? Are they trying to seem down to earth? Are they trying to look like a maverick? Or do they want to be accepted by their audience? The aim of being political is to have influence and you can only have influence if you are visible. We internalise that power and start to see ourselves differently as a result of that. The individual must perform and get results. they decided that instead of communicating more they were going to start by listening more. You need to be seen to be doing something so that. ‘Don’t cut my team in half. In addition to power coming from our position and our attractiveness (how much people respect and like us and are willing to follow us).influence I have to make them change. . I would say. but it was a positive one. and leaving people with the sense they have been tricked.’ They have to manage the message they give to us. who helps successful executives get their image right. I once worked with a company – let’s call it Champion Microsystems – on its internal communication strategy. showing appreciation for the input they had received and outlining their strategy for acting on this information as well as their own ideas. so they organised ‘town hall’ meetings for staff to express their concerns and held one-to-one sessions and focus groups to show they were interested in their people. This is just another form of politics. They know what impact they are trying to have. And as long as you continue to get results. . There has been a lot of emphasis on ‘authentic leadership’ in recent years. .
GOOD POLITICS. understands how important it is to be noticed: If a person has been passed over for promotion or is not effectively leading their team. . That’s playing politics. there is a constant pressure to pitch in with some cause or other. but stand by and do nothing as people around you are crying out for assistance. cut someone else’s team in half. how we value ourselves: The individual knows he has power . Whatever you do.
IT’S HUMAN NATURE
Another way that you and I actually create political organisations is that we demand that our leaders be political in order to protect or promote our interests. In their study of authentic leadership. . . otherwise my team won’t like me any more. ‘All the world’s a stage . A leader cannot say. your effectiveness is 70 per cent down to visibility and only 30 per cent down to ability. tell me more about it. a requirement that many people find hard to square with authenticity. organisational development experts Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones explain: The challenge of authentic leadership is finding common ground with the people you seek to recruit as followers.’ and I would enable things to happen on that route and we would get there in the end. and the important thing is to get the result. Their first instinct was to just tell their employees the truth. It is a vicious circle which perpetuates political behaviour. . they have to get out there. It becomes part of our self-esteem. Most of us want to work somewhere else and you probably do too. a motivation you share. Only then did they start transmitting their own message to the staff. don’t do it. Let’s say you want to make a connection with Key Holder Oli Barrett. our leaders need to manage the message they get from us when they communicate it to their own peers and superiors. they have to be seen. Leaders cannot operate effectively if they lose their position or if their people are not behind them (as I often say. At the same time.
According to Harvard Business School professor Abraham Zaleznik. The means matter less. they will quickly turn on you and your ability to influence them in future is severely damaged. If he fails to do either. . Feedback from the staff convinced senior managers that they must improve the way they communicated. He explained to me that he gets contacted regularly by people who want to meet with him in the hope he can open doors for them. Rather than being straightforward and saying you are wrong. . and one man in his time plays many parts. ‘Good politics’ means looking at yourself and identifying the parts of your authentic being which particular groups of followers are looking for.
• Take a bunch of your ethical beliefs and authentic personality and chop up to suit your own taste and the taste of those around you. As there is no way in this environment to bring about change in an open. May/June 1970. it is vital for a healthy organisation to give voice to different perspectives. . when a business becomes unsettled by some event and becomes dysfunctional. ‘How to Protect Your Job in a Recession’. But such ‘good politics’ is different from pure manipulation. just as dangerous. In a dysfunctional environment. ‘Power and Politics in Organisational Life’. when we experience this kind of ‘good politics’ in action. They need to make sure they won’t lose their self-respect and that their actions are in line with their own standards of honesty. Factions develop and the rules of the game become skewed. And where there is either a highly centralised command and control power system or. people can only influence behind closed doors.113. but if someone has made an effort to find out something about him and work that into the request – ‘So did you really run a networking event with the dragons from Dragons’ Den?’ and then perhaps acknowledges. You cannot make decisions without pleasing some people and upsetting other people and that in itself is. but even if there are just two of you in the office. but it was obvious she was a cow and I thought. . whatever field you work in. to practise some form of deception when negotiating .
CREATING YOUR OWN POLITICAL PARTY
The extent to which you play politics is a judgement call for you personally. People who are good at this kind of politics know which of their own personality traits to reveal and when. today’s workforce don’t respond well to being told exactly what to do and how to do it for long periods of time. As mentioned earlier.
(Some people prefer a more sour taste. a power vacuum because of weak management at the top. is unique to the individual. some people will enjoy the game itself far more than the results of it. one of you might not make a cup of tea for the other one and that can be political. I remember one executive always trying to seem so nice. you are making decisions that involve complex scenarios and complex strategy. Janet. p. whether it’s the one you play in your business or in society at large. Whenever we are in a negotiation situation. as is the style of that politics. September 2008. in which case add more common or garden manipulation. having worked in the White House. however. ‘Power and Politics in Organisational Life’. By conscious misstatements. which is when we will start to see behaviour that makes us suspicious. transparent way because anyone suspected of doing that will be shot down. in the interests of their companies or themselves. And. Abraham. frictions can start to develop and people start to rebel. a former White House adviser to President Truman. to a degree. people stop playing by the rules and go underground. ‘Why don’t you just come out and be one? Don’t sit there eating mung beans and pretending to be a woolly tree hugger. Just being yourself can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how that person behaves. we even know that we are being slightly ‘managed’ but we don’t mind because we understand that the world of work plays by slightly different rules anyway.7 Enabler Vicki Day described such a situation from her working life: Lots of people don’t want to play politics. is played in accordance with the rules of business: you adjust your tone and message to your audience and ensure you are expressing authentic parts of yourself at the same time. when a business is run in a highly structured directive style. whether we are very senior. I think it is fair to say that if the individual executive refuses to bluff from time to time – if he feels obligated to tell the truth. the whole truth.6 Well. but this isn’t necessarily dangerous. Havard Business Review.) • Decide what you want to achieve in your role. • Add emotional awareness so that you clearly understand what motivates and inspires the people you deal with. Sometimes. Businesspeople (or anyone in any field) must be able to reconcile themselves to the bluff in which they play a part. Most of us. 3 Zaleznik. Politics can be as simple as being an effective communicator. and nothing but the truth – he is ignoring opportunities permitted under the rules and is at a heavy disadvantage in his business dealings. this kind of bluffing is very different to lying: Most executives from time to time are almost compelled. That may be an example of playing politics. 2 Banks.’ I would much rather work with someone who is a pain in the backside – you know how to prepare yourself – instead of someone airy fairy but secretly stabbing you in the back.meeting. The need for political skills is something that Star Maker and headhunter Lucy Harris acknowledges is vital for her candidates: I would love to think it is possible to operate at that level and not play politics. • Sprinkle the most palatable mixture over those you want to influence. Harvard Business Review. and Diane Coutu. very junior or work for ourselves. ‘I know you are short of time but can I meet with you?’ – he is far more likely to create a window in his diary. want to have some influence over our lives. It still reflects aspects of the individual’s real self. You believe that what you are trying to achieve is in the best interests of your business (or your team. or society) and you use the rules of business to give you the best chance of getting the result. Sometimes you have to have more of a business etiquette which may mean moulding yourself in order to be a player. Harvard Business Review. concealment of pertinent facts or exaggeration – in short bluffing – they seek to persuade others to agree with them.
. When we lack power – either because of a dictatorial leadership style or a power vacuum – we become frustrated by our inability to make decisions which directly affect our wellbeing. Politics. taking into account the requirements of their work. though. of course. That’s when we feel forced to become ‘bad politicians’. as long as this doesn’t make it unpleasant for you to eat. people are almost encouraged to jockey for position and push others out of their way by whatever means necessary. But politics usually present themselves at that level because of the complex dynamics and the value of that relationship to the organisation. There is always point-scoring. • Make sure you mix in a solid track record to gain the trust of others. he should know! Where the line between ‘good politics’ and ‘bad politics’ is drawn here. Abraham. • Feel free to adjust the recipe depending on circumstances. People regularly disagree with one another in organisations. Politics can turn bad. political. As Chief Exec of an organisation. In fact. According to Albert Carr. They must feel ethically justified. For instance. so ethical. May/June 1970. or it can be as complex as having an intricate knowledge of the motivations and beliefs of those around you and adapting your style continually to bring about the results you want to see.
1 Zaleznik. according to Carr. in this environment. we recognise that a certain amount of ‘bluffing’ is acceptable. What is certainly true is that you must be in the game in order to succeed.
Harvard Business Review. 5 Goffee. and Jean Kahwajy.4 Goffee. July/August 1997. January/February 1968.3. Rob. 6 Carr. Albert Z. ‘Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership’.
.3. ‘How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight’. 7 Bourgeois III. Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review.J.6. December 2005. and Gareth Jones. Kathleen Eisenhardt. L. p. December 2005. Harvard Business Review. p. ‘Is Business Bluffing Ethical?’ p. and Gareth Jones. ‘Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership’. p.5. Rob.
including those from fields as diverse as surgery. If you weren’t given the opportunity to excel at something. as well as improving those areas where you have a strength. If you want to be finance director. If you practise with your head. honest. Such skills are great when your job is compiling spreadsheets and operating machinery. there still remains the question of what talent it is that you should be developing. ‘What about Mozart?’ I hear you cry. This may sound contradictory – on the one hand there is no such thing as innate skill. Literary agent Carole Blake takes on authors at different stages in their development: I have taken on clients when they’ve written a few chapters and when they’ve already written a few novels. but that’s not a talent in a meaningful way and it won’t win you the Ryder Cup. writing. That doesn’t mean you need to practise every minute of the day. Cokely have studied the theory of expertise and conclude that it will take the average person at least a decade to achieve it and only then if they focus on ‘tasks beyond your current level of competence and comfort’. but there are also many talented people who struggle for success. the authors argue that: you’ve got to forget the folklore about genius that makes many people think they cannot take a scientific approach to developing expertise. there will be aspects that we find more challenging. all of the ingredients in the recipe for success have focused on personal qualities – your own or those of the people around you. know when a coach’s feedback doesn’t work for them: The elite performers we studied knew what they were doing right and concentrated on what they were doing wrong. Whether he would stand out now is unknown. whatever field you are in now. You might have always felt very comfortable with a golf club in your hands.Ingredient 7
So far. having a trustworthy nature. There are individuals in many fields who have relied heavily on a talent to propel them to power. it is vital to develop a talent. aviation and firefighting. . having written one of the first books on violin instruction. but as you progress through your career you may need some of these skills less. it is possible to develop a talent. Deliberate practice means working particularly on the aspects of your game that you can’t do well. two hours is plenty.1 Authors K. But talent is always learnt. Those who achieve high levels of expertise learn from a variety of sources. born with an innate gift. What if no one had ever given Steve Backley a javelin to throw? What if George Best’s parents had banned him from playing football because it was distracting him from his schoolwork? Ellen MacArthur only decided to become a professional sailor when a bout of glandular fever got in the way of her sixth form studies and prevented her from becoming a vet. music. Talent alone. what really counts is whether you have the ability and commitment to continually improve. without any discernable skill it would also be hard to get to the top. chess. Becoming a masterful player involves more than having a good feel for the game. Then they progress to someone more advanced and eventually to someone who has achieved an exceptional level of success. I asked [my mentor] Professor Auer how many hours I should practise. If you have no ‘feel’ for the majority of what you are required to do. he is typically presented as a child prodigy. All the 100 or more superb performers studied for The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. The good news is that innate talent might not exist at all. If you want to be operations director you have to be the best on the shop floor. no amount is enough. otherwise you won’t have a long career.3 No matter how ‘naturally’ you take to a particular skill. but don’t forget that his achievement was only extraordinary in comparison with the general standards of the day. Right? Not necessarily. To get to the very top. I need to believe they can finish it well. So how much talent is enough? What kinds of talents are most valuable? And can one have too much?
WHAT IS TALENT?
Do you know what your talents are? Are they innate or learnt? Have you always known where your gift lies or did it emerge later in life? Are you still looking for yours? I believe everyone has the potential to excel in a wide variety of areas. acting. The famous violinist Nathan Milstein wrote: Once when I became concerned because others around me practised all day long. ‘It really doesn’t matter how long. One of the problems with relying on a talent in order to achieve success is that we assume we are only exposed to the opportunity to develop our strengths randomly. Yes. if you are willing to put in the time. That is because deliberate practice is mentally demanding. It involves deliberate practice of every shot. writers and musicians. you could have been successful too. does not seem to guarantee success. They deliberately picked unsentimental coaches who would challenge them and drive them to higher levels of performance. They may start with someone who can give a lot of time and praise (a local teacher or someone you admire in your own department). But where does actual ability at some tangible skill come in the recipe? Surely you have to be exceptional at something practical. he started learning music before he was four years old and his father was a skilled composer and a famous teacher. This is not the same as working in a field which is a bad fit for you.
WHAT TALENT IS THE RIGHT TALENT?
As we have seen. Relying on your natural feel for something is limiting. but we all know there are some skills we find easier to learn. be hugely knowledgeable in some area or have a rare and valued talent which few of your contemporaries share? At least. computer programming. ballet. . including athletes. but I want to see that they are learning from that process and that each book needs less editing. from the exact same location. The obvious answer would be the core skill of your job. according to K. feedback and also. in order to experiment with different techniques and hone that skill. They have related to personality traits – good manners. We also have weaknesses at skills we find much harder to master. Most experts. show that expertise is made not born. and he said. being able to read other people and adapt your style to meet their needs. Within that overall tendency to be good at something though. In
. If only someone had given you a javelin. you probably have little interest in investing the time or energy to achieve excellence. even painful. Anders Ericsson et al. I do a lot of moulding because I edit their work. It is less of a surprise that he was so talented than we are led to believe. one might think. Michael J. We are not born good at anything. Prietula and Edward T. Anders Ericsson. you need to be expert at spreadsheets and budgeting.2 In other words. or even at all. If I am taking on someone who hasn’t finished their novel. only practise for four or five hours at a time and some for even less time. Having said that. As long as you have the motivation. You might be born with a propensity to be able to learn something with more ease than someone else. even exceptional talent. The answer is not straightforward. If you practise with your fingers. However. It is the amount and quality of the practice which influences the level of expertise people achieve rather than any innate gift. over and over. They need to be able to take on board constructive. indeed. Also. The ability to learn from feedback is important. you need to be smart. on the other there are clearly skills you take to more readily than others. you can excel in terms of your expertise. you may believe you have a talent of which you are totally unaware. the interest and the other qualities already discussed in previous chapters you can develop an exceptional ability .
and then the next and the next. if you don’t know about anything you can’t write about anything. but in everything you do in life you need guidance and guidelines. . clear messages and there is no haziness. or whatever. generate more original ideas and. people won’t follow you if they don’t think you understand what is happening in the wider world. the world really is our oyster. They are able to sift through all this information. But for most people. taking a visionary perspective.fact. although he had his problems. gaining and retaining knowledge enables you to be more creative. I will see what needs doing’. But these are skills they have neglected to develop because their focus has been so narrow. . It is about attention to detail. those that are willing to drive change. Look at the following list of words:
Pick any word randomly and see if you can think of any new products that relate to this word. to keep the balls in the air and be charming. the more difficulty you may have as you move through your organisation. again. No matter how great a leader you are. show them exactly what they need to do. having too much talent in one area can be limiting: It is a fine thing to have marvellous ability whether you are a dancer or a musician. to broaden their scope. analysing sales data. develop the strategy and do all that at once. . the more skilled you are at these tasks. It is something HR professional Phil Taylor wants to see if he is going to open doors for people: There is a basic technical competence – being good at what they do – but it is the ability to connect that to a bigger vision. how to use the stock they have to make a million pounds. That might go against the current management thinking because it is a form of control. so they don’t want anyone to muddy the water. consequently. open. unless you’ve built up an understanding of the other aspects. but choose two words you know something about (you can pick two words that are not on this list. According to headhunter Lucy Harris. the ability to articulate that and engage others. understandable themes and details which make all the difference: Very successful people are meticulous in the way they communicate. I have seen doctors who are fantastically brilliant. getting involved in the detail because that’s what they always enjoyed and what they were very skilled at. Performance is a ticket to play but I also want them to show an aptitude to take on different things. relevant. people were very forgiving because of his talent. I want them to have the attitude ‘I don’t need to see a job description. No matter how good a writer you may be. Urging them to (in his words) ‘commit to learning’. Without it. Managing people. I’ve seen people hobbled by their ability and they don’t seem to have the brainspace to add other bits to it. e. you have to give them the tools. but try to make sure they are as unrelated to each other as possible). According to mentor. having a light touch when delegating may be more important. those that are willing to take on a variety of different responsibilities or different challenges . . and ears. Say you open a shop and you’ve got all the stock. he feels that all entrepreneurial people have a natural willingness to seek out new information: . The talent is to multitask. those that are willing to try something different. . . If we can open ourselves up to new ideas and new ways of thinking. not academic knowledge but practical knowledge that comes from listening. . They keep stepping in and checking spreadsheets. excessive reliance on a particular ability is dodgy.4 Not only does learning enable us to become more expert and more talented. Indecisive people never get off the starting block.’ They may even come across as control freaks and sometimes they are. but they haven’t worked out the other tools so they can be impossibly difficult. unless you understand the protocols of working with the tool. He was quite exceptional as a young man and.g.g. you could be even more original in your thinking. You are the conductor. If you knew a lot about trains and jazz. observing and learning from life itself. drilling down to the last comma. Now pick a second word randomly. But it is like having a grand tool which you can’t get the best from if you don’t know how to use it. to the importance of learning and working hard to develop expertise. be more forward thinking and a more effective agent of change. new products sparked by the words ‘train’ and ‘jazz’? It was probably easier to think of ideas when you had two words rather than just one. It is their baby and their vision. So people who can pick up on what the important issues are and then align people around them rather than waiting for someone to tell them this is important . What new products can you think of when you bring the two words together. When I am looking for talent for senior positions. all of the conflicting messages and pull out the simple. e. You don’t then just leave it up to the sales staff. New ideas are produced when two seemingly unrelated concepts collide. all of these ideas. The ability to absorb information easily and quickly (which is related to the ability to learn from feedback) and then assimilate that information in order to make decisions confidently is a valuable talent. . strategist and Enabler John Savage. No one can say ‘I wasn’t sure about that so I did this’ or ‘I misinterpreted that and I took this from your e-mail or that from your e-mail. Knowing what other bits to add – the talents that matter if you want to become a success – is vital. You are in the best location and you want to do £1 million in the first year. The first step to success would seem to be taking the first step . Having breadth of knowledge applies outside your own business – to your industry and related industries. It’s all about clean. I have worked with many leaders who have skills in one specific area and have developed those to such an extent that they are reluctant to pass that work on to someone else when they step up to the next level. What makes the difference between the creative person and the less creative person is not any special power but greater knowledge (in the form of practised expertise) and the motivation to acquire it. chief executives and managing directors need depth and breadth to be effective: The challenge is to be fantastic in a silo and then develop your portfolio to be really good at more than one area. Leo Tolstoy once observed that people often told him they didn’t know whether or not they could write a novel because they had never tried. That’s what I want to see. even if you have brilliant people around you.
. motivate a team. Tycoon Peter Jones encourages all would-be entrepreneurs to keep their eyes. And getting to be the conductor is a very broad task. as with George Best. Successful people take action. Try the experiment again.5 We come back. Sometimes a beautiful talent can overarch everything. you lack credibility. new products that are sparked by the word ‘train’. a great communicator. One talent that Enabler Vicki Day has observed is the extreme clarity that successful people have when they think and communicate.
to learn. Harvard Business Review. 1996.
Some sample questions
1. ‘The Making of an Expert’. But no one. sitting down with a cup of tea and asking them what they notice about you. Cokely. Can you give examples of when you’ve seen my weaknesses? 7. It is time to get some of that honest. no matter how many hours you practise. July/August 2007. • Whatever your talent.119. Harvard Business Review. Explain that you are looking for honesty and are open to critique because you want to continue to learn.Successful people don’t overwhelm you with details. p. 3 Anders Ericsson. As we have seen. Karl. 4th ed. and Michael J. you must be able to apply it in a real way rather than only having theoretical knowledge. would make the biggest impact on your effectiveness? Some of these will already be areas of strength. think of ways you can minimise the impact of these.250.116. Now decide where to do your deliberate practice. 2007. to communicate clearly. When you read it back it should sound like you. London: Abacus. you can create a ‘kitchen cabinet’ of advisers and people who have skills in areas which will never be a good fit for you. you can compose an e-mail which will give them more time to think about their answers. you need to decide what is most important to you and what is most likely to lead to your success. you won’t be able to develop an expertise in everything. How do I currently add value in my job/in our relationship? 2. there is always room for improvement. July/August 2007. to assimilate information. • Talents which matter include the ability to engage other people. In many fields. Which areas. If there are areas in the feedback where you show no natural ability. less-is-more style? Can they change register? When people get down to work I want them to be diligent and succinct. 2 Anders Ericsson. The ability to learn. • Being a talented pastry chef may serve you well at the beginning of your career but you will also need a breadth of knowledge in all areas if you are to run the restaurant. The Creative Mind. The to you element is very important. no matter how naturally they fit with a particular talent. Which areas would be most valuable for me to develop? 4. Edward T. to the more clinical. p. Peter. Although I said in Chapter 5 that we tend to enjoy doing things we are good at. And when enjoyment goes. get things done. p. 5 Boden. Karl. look at the feedback for patterns. While breadth is important. part of the skill is knowing which feedback to take on board and which doesn’t suit you. Can they move from the fast flow fire-hose mode. and Michael J. Not everyone who has picked up a javelin would be able to compete at Olympic level just because they had the best coaches and put in the hours of training. spilling out 100mph. • Get feedback in order to judge how you are performing and which areas need more work. Equally. retain and apply knowledge. ‘The Making of an Expert’. Can you give examples of when I used my strengths? 6. Prietula. will be a world-class orator or best-selling author or decisive leaders unless they push themselves to achieve expertise. Start by identifying a variety of people from inside and outside work who know you well enough to comment on your strengths. It’s something that Oli Barrett values as well: I notice how people communicate. It is not a common thing. so does motivation. Tycoon. London: Hodder & Stoughton. Write a description of yourself based on your insight following this feedback.
1 Anders Ericsson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. for instance getting other people to do them for you. but they know exactly what to tell you and how to tell you so that you get the message clearly. • Over-reliance on an exceptional talent can mean you neglect other tools. Edward T. Prietula. • Despite the fact that talents can be learnt. This piece of prose should include examples given to you by the people who gave you feedback. 4 Jones. what words come to mind? 3. When you think of me. each of us will find some easier than others to master. this enjoyment can be seriously damaged if we are motivated by the need to please other people rather than the desire to achieve for ourselves. Who could help me work on my strengths? And my weaknesses? Next. Margaret.
• You can whip up a wide range of talents if you are willing to put in time for dedicated practice. Others will be more challenging. you don’t have to focus on all the feedback with the same vigour. we see people who excel and yet do not seem to find any pleasure in what they do. Cokely. You may already exhibit some expertise at one or more of these already. Don’t ignore inconsistencies – some people might have a more astute insight into your strengths and weaknesses or have experienced you under certain conditions which brought out different traits. You can conduct informal research.
. They have pulled together all their years of expertise and transferred it to you to enable you to benefit from all of that experience. et al. painful feedback. p. Alternatively. Which areas should I get others to do or get help with? 5. if you worked on them. And however accurate your self-assessment. to generate ideas and make decisions. generate ideas and make decisions has already been identified as an important talent in this chapter. 2006. You may believe yourself to have more talent than you actually do. Remember to include as many questions about your strengths as your areas of weakness. Being able to recite the recipe for a Victoria sponge is not the same as being able to make one.
CHOOSING YOUR TALENT
It is time to choose where you are going to put all your hard work. So. Not everyone can be a world-class orator or best-selling author or decisive leader if they don’t have the natural fit. As we saw earlier in this chapter. The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance.24. Karl.
there are many people who wonder why they aren’t getting ahead when they clearly don’t enjoy what they do. why do successful people feel the need to achieve? We have seen how committed they are. However. after all that studying. when present in our work. They are: 1. followed by numerous others which tried to test his theories further. but when we are paid more. And there is nothing wrong with that.4 If you plan on being a success. Achievement. Responsibility. It wasn’t until she was in her 50s that she had more than a walk-on part in any television show. Although. 4. This will be different for different people. What a surprise. make sure you are doing something you like. but it doesn’t. Because they love it they don’t feel it is work and therefore they are happy to do it in the evening. Herzberg’s study. Pride feeds your self-esteem. Frederick Herzberg.1 That’s a pretty high level of commitment to winning. but to tickle their taste buds with the chance to get their innate motivations met. Instead. People respond well to the feeling that they are moving forward in life. 5. 3. Recognition. my career had stagnated. It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to fly from New York to London for a meeting and then return to New York that evening to attend another important meeting in the morning if they believe that they have chosen to do it because it serves a greater good. winning a gold medal in front of the world’s media and standing on the podium while they play the national anthem does it for many athletes. all that dreaming. Just as we all like our steak cooked in a slightly different way. even if it was then guaranteed to kill them. I loved my early years in broadcasting. Success based on your ability.2 Herzberg says that ‘push and pull’ motivation (tempting people with a carrot while prodding them with a stick) doesn’t work with most people for long. But people are more complicated than that. how sturdy they are when under attack. as a Radio 4 producer I held a much coveted job. when met. we all get motivated by a slightly different combination of factors. It seems that most of us get a kick out of achieving goals and when we do. It simply reduces job dissatisfaction. Many of us know very little about our profession before we embark on it. If you want to be successful. You feel good about yourself which makes you want to work even harder to get more of this feeling.
THEORIES OF MOTIVATION
There are many theories about what motivates us and what demoti-vates us. and the same applies to pay. chosen not to have a family at all in order to pursue their career goals. They finally get the opportunity to fund their true ambition and it takes off. But why? What drives them? A US study of Olympic athletes carried out just before the 2000 Sydney Games showed that 52 per cent of athletes would take a drug that would make them unbeatable for the next five years.3 2. perhaps. but we’ll look in more detail at the work of the granddaddy of motivation theory. They rebel or feel overwhelmed at first. but as time goes on they begin to feel energised. Most successful people have made choices which. much to the dismay of their other half I am sure. Actress Liz Smith. has the most motivating affect on performance. concluded that there were six innate motivators which. you need to not only accept more responsibility when it is offered. people are capable of extraordinary commitment when they take the attitude that they have chosen to do a particular thing rather than feeling they have been forced. Perhaps the job has not lived up to their expectations. We may complain about the size of our pay packet and blame that for our lazy attitude. we want to set even more challenging and stretching ones. seem like sacrifices. At that point. the evidence shows that improvements in our motivation are short-lived. The opposite of job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction. However. best known for her roles in The Vicar of Dibley and The Royle Family. but when you find the right combination of motivations for you. True satisfaction must come from within. People are motivated by a variety of factors. your work isn’t what you expected it to be and you are going to make a change. Advancement. waiting for fate to step in and force them to change. you give him a nudge from behind or offer him a treat if he will comply and you end up with an obedient pet. When
. occurs because people don’t understand that they will feel more motivated if they have more responsibility. Only then did her dreams of acting as a career take off. expertise. All the research shows that when people’s jobs are ‘enlarged’ – they are given more to do without more pay or status – motivation levels drop and continue to fall. The way to motivate a poorly performing member of staff is not to threaten them with a pay cut or loss of benefits. What you consider to be a ‘greater good’ is personal to you. Many of us would have thrown in the towel decades earlier. Someone who complains about the food in the canteen doesn’t suddenly become highly engaged with their work when the food is improved. This is different from a pat on the back.Ingredient 8
The question remains. They may have struggled financially for many years while their peers worked in steady jobs with comfortable incomes. The initial fall is interesting and. A great deal of motivation comes from enjoying what you do and this should be no surprise. but seek more responsibility. Your competition won’t come only from colleagues in your own company or even in other companies in the country: in today’s international market. We’ve seen how hard they work to build up their knowledge and expertise. experience and skills (which is totally under your control) gives you a sense of pride. enrich our employment and make it meaningful for us. They believe their motivation is healthy because they can rationalise it. It can be hard to admit that. The work itself. We might think that a pay rise or more time off will give us more job satisfaction. held down two or three jobs at a time as she raised her children alone while still trying to break into acting. According to Professor Graham Jones and former Olympic swimmer Adrian Moorhouse. to the rest of us. Many of us do not want an awards ceremony where we are presented with a certificate by the company chairman in front of tipsy colleagues. it is thought. We’ve seen how they gather around them a close army of allies and how they build trust on a wider basis in order to bring about the changes they believe are vital. It means your achievement being noticed in a meaningful way for you by someone whose recognition is valued by you. motivation levels – after an initial fall – will rise and continue to do so. Herzberg found through his research that the things that make us dissatisfied in our work do not make us more motivated when they are reversed. at the weekend and on holiday. On the other hand. when jobs are ‘enriched’ and people are given more responsibility and ownership. it could be coming from elsewhere in the world such as Asia and Latin America where people are more forthright about asking for more responsibility. Staying still can feel as negative as being given a pay cut or being demoted. a one-to-one with our boss who explains exactly what she has seen us do and how impressed she is might have more meaning. This is a controversial one. Many people put off that decision. and find work which allows you to indulge this personal taste. This need. We may spend many years training to do a job only to find that we don’t enjoy it once we get the opportunity to do it for real. how focused. This happens occasionally when people are made redundant. They may have compromised on time with their family or. all that grafting. I did not feel successful because I was not enjoying my work. but eventually felt that 90 per cent of my day was taken up with activities which I didn’t enjoy. It is fine when you are trying to get your dog off the sofa. you can achieve great results.
Those of us who are satisfied to set a goal. so the expectation on him for the next book is huge. there are over a billion people who are going to starve to death. getting recognition. It isn’t. . However. is that their definition of success is set at an extremely high level. They are never finished. or ‘Avoidance’. they don’t feel ready to stop. about achieving goals and getting recognition for those achievements. This is true for Enabler John Savage. ‘It is time to move on. Many successful people have lifestyles which need to be sustained. so I’ve decided to look for another job. not in his lifetime. Others deal with this situation in a much more constructive manner by ‘transferring’ their motivation to other things. I probably would have said yes. It doesn’t get easier. It is something that agent Carole Blake recognises as adding a lot of pressure to her authors: There are many authors who really think that once they have published a book it should be easy after that. When our work challenges and stretches us. rising up the ranks as they do so. when I take someone on.’ . But it is more than that. if you ask them whether they are successful. you are likely to achieve only £500. She was aiming beyond the finish line in order to achieve the necessary distance. . As Jones and Moorhouse put it. He still has to go back into a quiet room and write that next one. this also means £1 million won’t feel like enough. we have something to strive for. He has paid a price for this commitment. to use whatever talent or ability you’ve got. what the possibilities are for me. . I need new projects constantly. there is never an end to his mission. . No big surprise there. reach it and say ‘I am done’ will not achieve exceptional success. I ask them what they plan to do in the future. Deciding to opt out or even scale down can be very unpopular with your nearest and dearest. The reason why these people are never quite finished and therefore are always pushing themselves to achieve more. . but describes himself as ‘moderately successful’: I’m not finished yet. Heaven isn’t far enough. We saw what the rewards for developing a talent can be and many people find this whole process of developing themselves highly motivational. . Professor Graham Jones says our behaviour can either be described as ‘Approach’. The second book is a nightmare to write and publish because everyone’s expectations are higher. . Other people’s well-being is tied up in your success. wives. After a lifetime of pushing themselves up the ladder. Having said that. you can write two bad books but after that your audience will melt away. Star Maker Lucy Harris has a broad definition of success. Take Key Holder Phil Taylor. It is pretty smart to take your life experience. Most people don’t seek out the things that give their life meaning and satisfaction. ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?’ wrote Robert Browning and it seems that. even if it is highly motivating for some individuals. if you aim for a £1 million turnover. so if I am not doing my bit at home with my friends and family as well as professionally. but I believe there is a duty. My obsession with working took me away from my family. as he pointed out. . ‘I’ve got it made now and I can do whatever I want’ has got it totally wrong. like the rest of us. You go through phases in your life and you redefine what you want to do. In effect. For John. where we avoid or move away from a set of circumstances:6 People who are approach motivated may say. This may be why many of the top businesspeople I have worked with begin to look for new challenges once they reach the top (or once the top is in sight). he has not succeeded: I think there is a danger in putting all your energy in to one aspect of life. As with advancement. He keeps going. often refer to being worn down by frustrations in their current role. Those who find this most motivational will be happiest in roles where learning is a key aspect of the job.5 6. you have a great deal of responsibility. Are they planning to write more novels? My business is a business too. children or friends have come to expect a certain quality of life. There is no such thing as ‘enough’ for them. their husbands. When you employ large numbers of people or other people’s businesses rely on trade with you. That obligation might be to provide money for your family. moving it further out of reach. They have an insatiable appetite. family is very important. growing. I think it is hard to be complacently happy when. Those executives who are driven by avoidance motives. those who have achieved a long-held ambition: may begin to question the meaning of life and actually become quite unhappy because they perceive themselves to have no direction any more. They will either look outside their work for new challenges or invent new milestones in their role. academics and scientists may all enjoy their work because it focuses on learning. teaching us new things about ourselves and about our area of expertise. and they have continued to grow and seek out opportunities to learn. I’m only glad I’ve had the chance to be one of the cogs. these people just want to reach even further.we have opportunities to advance in our career. He is responsible for human resources at Mattel around the world (excluding. they rarely answer ‘yes’. But it is a constantly moving goalpost. each review saying the book was better than the one before. Aim for £2 million and you will be more likely to achieve £1 million. meaning that she must be spinning a number of plates in the air at all times in order to count herself as successful: Success means reaching the top of your game which then fuels your motivation to go further. then you are happy. at least. When you find something that gives your life meaning. they cannot actually achieve it so they remain hungry. Unlike many of us. And so it is true of successful people.
. they don’t dream of retirement (except perhaps on the odd bad day).
AND THEN SOME .
The pressure to continue to succeed doesn’t only come from within: there can be external pressures too. whatever it is that keeps them going. there is an obligation to serve the common good. Researchers. His is a hard goal to live with because.
Successful people are motivated. They have found work which they enjoy and have taken on more and more responsibility. They never want to stop achieving. These are not the best motives for leaving. There is a sacrificial bit in this. we feel more accomplished. . an obligation. I am failing. And that may be why. He didn’t set out to be a success for himself but in order to bring about social change. It’s as if they have an itch that never feels fully scratched. Novelist Peter James got reviews for three successive books. The need to please or support others can have a detrimental effect on one’s health. They care. but I think if you can do more. . when there are adults in this country who can’t read. so I will change my target. Very successful people keep changing their ultimate goal. Each of us is motivated by different things but we all ask ourselves. I cannot understand why this doesn’t influence everybody. on reaching heaven. . until social justice is achieved. trying to scratch the itch while knowing it can never be done . or a stomach that never feels full. Growth. . the US). If you had asked me ten years ago whether I would consider myself successful if I was in the role I am in now. on the other hand. it gets harder. ‘Is what I am achieving enough to supply my motivational demands?’ For me. learning is a by-product of the role but one which adds to the meaningfulness of our job. in the world. A friend who ran in the London Marathon told me that she was training to run 27 miles rather than 26 miles and 386 yards. Anyone who says. the people they work with or perhaps the lack of vision in the organisation . knowledge and skill and say I understand better how to employ these. people want to feel they are growing and learning. For the rest of us. In business. In writing. where we move towards some set of circumstances. advancing . Actually we all need our goals to be slightly out of reach in order to achieve anything. I represent career writers and.000.
Vicki Day has noticed that many successful people are motivated towards riches and glory. 26 October 2003. An Unwinnable War’. and Adrian Moorhouse. Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance. you will never quite reach the peak. ‘One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?’ Harvard Business Review. have a nice car and have a safe. secure and lucrative by parents. Their desire to get out of poverty. Make sure you add your personal needs to your recipe. the work itself. advancement. • Set goals which are realistic but also beyond easy reach. not just achieving the goal. They need to nurture and make other people feel secure.
. 2007. and the needs that drive us never go away. they are constantly testing themselves so they have to keep on achieving. Perhaps success. Oxford: Spring Hill. sportspeople. Jimmy Tarbuck promised to buy his parents a house before he bought himself one. a wrong to right from the past and. David.12. It is a quality that PA and company managing director Deborah Meredith has found in some of the businesses she has worked with: Fear of failure might be part of their motivation. ever-ascending. Frederick. ‘Avoidance’ motivation is often found amongst successful people who started with nothing. p. and Adrian Moorhouse. artists and musicians came from the wrong side of the tracks. The goalposts keep moving (we move them). doesn’t always lie on particularly ‘healthy’ foundations. ever-improving path. • Enjoy the climb because.86. so far from discouraging. Many doctors. Their hearts might have been in the right place – ‘We want our boy/girl to live in a nice house. but aim for most of your motivation to be ‘approach’ motivation. and Adrian Moorhouse. In truth.111. lawyers and accountants were led in to their profession because it was considered high status. Harvard Business Review. 3 Jones. As Winston Churchill said. chances are. I was driven because I had to be. was a powerful force. As onlookers. • If necessary. Oxford: Spring Hill. 2007. as we have seen. Every step may be fruitful. A common ‘avoidance’ motive is fear of failure. • Ask yourself what your innate motivators are. Frederick. Original published in Harvard Business Review.112. Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance. Graham. Graham.] 2 Herzberg. believing that when we get there we will feel ‘full’. 4 Herzberg. but there is a high price to pay in terms of personal satisfaction. secure profession’ – but. 6 Jones. and bring their family with them.14 The Sunday Times. They want to see all their family do well. I was a single mum for a long time.’
INSATIABLE APPETITE RECIPE
• Make choices rather than sacrifices. only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. But this. pushing the boundaries constantly. It is the journey towards success that gives us energy and motivation. ‘One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?’ p. but also away from their backgrounds: The Sunday Times Rich List looked at the backgrounds of these successful people and found that many were left as the main breadwinner and had to make money to support their family.
1 Bond. find that their need not to fail is still so strong that they never feel truly satisfied and able to enjoy their success. January 2003. whether you care about achievement. even with a proven track record of success. January 2003. the journey towards success never really ends. responsibility or personal growth. 2007. The last thing they want to do is fall off the perch. • Continue to sprinkle new goals in to your mix as you go so that you are never completely satisfied. p. Graham. p. recognition. It may sometimes result in incredible performances. Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance.‘Avoidance’ motivation can be seen when people embark on careers in order to please their families. p.2. Once they’ve reached a certain level they have to maintain that level. Oxford: Spring Hill. People motivated by fear of failure always feel they have something to prove.15. we aspire to the level of people we admire. It becomes a challenge to stay on top. They have a desire to achieve. Oxford: Spring Hill. such external factors have far less impact on motivation than internal ones like actually enjoying the work. ‘Every day you may make progress. ‘A Battle Won. 5 Jones. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening. add some ‘avoidance’ motives to keep you on your toes. And maybe that’s how we like it. 2007. as you or I define it. p. Jan/Feb 1968. Many of our best known entrepreneurs. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. in order to sustain your energy for the long haul. [Quoted in Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance by Professor Graham Jones and Adrian Moorhouse.
‘That’s new!’ Instead. They see not only what ‘is’.
MORE THAN A FEELING
In Chapter 7. just like all the ingredients so far. ‘I don’t know in advance what I am going to put on canvas any more than I decide beforehand what colours I am going to use . change the rules and create new solutions just for the fun of it. In order to do this. When highly creative chef Heston Blumenthal invents a new dish. When people try to imagine the future without any reference to the needs of today. Inventor and science fiction writer Arthur C. who in the late 1970s created Nissan Design International (now Nissan Design America). challenged the status quo. but what ‘could be’. Many inventive people describe the moment of creativity as being sudden. It is only later that I begin to estimate more exactly the effect of my work. Without the ability to envision something different. but changing them opens up a new world of possibilities. poetry. He starts with ‘now’. The reason we aren’t wearing gold lamé catsuits and eating cubes of artificially simulated food as imagined by B-list 1960s science-fiction writers is because there is no need. they want guarantees. That is not to say that successful people take risks. or company. you can become blinkered. The key to successful change is anticipating what is needed and being prepared so that you remain the leading individual. And that can be challenging for people who see opportunities for making things better. it probably isn’t a new idea. Successful people have an understanding of the world they play in and how different elements can affect what they are trying to achieve. They extrapolate from that what may happen around the corner and prepare for that. I know that I know the end of the book even though I don’t know it. we saw briefly how learning and knowledge assist in creativity. all the ingredients blend together perfectly and become one. invention isn’t just about being creative. When you team the word ‘train’ with the word ‘jazz’. If you don’t take in a range of perspectives. In some companies.
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?
The future is not an inevitability which we are expected to second-guess. . but you do have an understanding of what’s happening in the world and the environment that affects what you are doing. The question successful people are always asking isn’t ‘How would we like things to be?’ but ‘How are things now?’ Jerry Hirshberg. But the path is often blocked by people who will only back a sure thing. they must be able to imagine. Clarke asked the questions: ‘Intuition or mathematics? Do we use models to help us find the truth? Or do we know the truth
. better or more efficient. he wrote: ‘[We] give form to the future based on an imaginative grasp of the potential latent in the current moment. Pablo Picasso told a friend. refined and repeated. he doesn’t throw disconnected ingredients in a pan and tell us. Risk-taking is integral to ‘invention’. Every time you solve a problem in a new way. one of the most innovative car design labs in the world.Ingredient 9
Successful people don’t believe in standing still. They haven’t got to where they are today by following everyone else’s lead. In his excellent book. the culture is ‘By all means take risks. Instead they have brought about change. And the broader your perspective. They get an idea seemingly from nowhere. risk tolerance and rule-breaking.’1 Successful people are always looking at what is happening in the world as it affects them and their business right now. but they do understand that change is inevitable. There’s something apparently magical about it. There must be a good chance that they will work – they should not be doomed to failure – but if success is completely assured. . a kind of Midas touch that you either have or you don’t have. but forming the idea in the first place. Success can only be assured once an approach has been tried and tested. not only in judging the idea’s worth. The Creative Priority. he looks at what we already eat and then asks what happens if he changes this element or removes that. music. You can be creative in the way you resolve a dispute between two employees. just as long as they pay off’. more efficient or more profitable. Creativity is most commonly associated with the arts – painting. Once you have creativity and risk-tolerance. But expertise has a part to play. Creativity can mean inventing new products. But as an ingredient. drama – but creative thinking can be found in any industry and any walk of life. Those that keep an eye on what is happening in the world are more likely to come out with initiatives and thoughts that drive better results. you are being creative. It is like a home-made mayonnaise: when it is made correctly. one cannot get ahead. You can be creative in the way you generate funding for a project or in the way you achieve your goal without funding. However. the people at the top understand that risks don’t always pay. new. but being creative in your thinking can be applied much more broadly. taken products or services further than ever before or simply been faster. The solutions may come from within an industry. there is always the risk it won’t work. Invention inevitably means changing the rules. The difference between the genius and the crank is that the genius has the knowledge and the expertise to know the difference between the good ideas that emerge and those which don’t hold water. a new idea can be born. Key Holder Phil Taylor believes this kind of thinking is vital to succeed in the corporate world: You can’t predict the future precisely. the more likely you are to know what problems are out there and have access to a wide range of stimuli to generate new ideas. which means success with something new is never guaranteed. They don’t make changes for change’s sake. almost magical.’3 And it isn’t just artists who describe this feeling. calls this kind of thinking ‘presenthought’. in the future. most organisations are not risk-tolerant. In fact. they base their decisions about the future on what they see happening today. Working within the rules or norms of an industry or organisation can limit your options. it is also about taking risks. Creativity comes from looking at real problems today and trying to solve them. When two seemingly unrelated concepts collide.’2 Latin American novelist Isabel Allende described a similar sensation: ‘Somehow inside me – I can say this after having written five books – I know that I know where I am going. I never know whether I shall fall on my feet. You can be creative in the way you organise your team. you might get 100 ideas. Because invention is inevitably about doing something new or different. Albert Einstein also described feeling that sensation that he was on the right lines even if he couldn’t justify it mathematically. In truly inventive environments. They aren’t dreamers. Really useful creative ideas aren’t thought up out of thin air. but which ones have worth? Which ones could change the world? Which ones could make money? Only those which meet a current need or solve a current problem (or solve a problem which may be anticipated given the current reality) have the potential to survive. from past experience or from seemingly unrelated sources. it can be learnt or acquired and is far more about hard graft than being a natural born superhero. What makes invention such a tricky ingredient to get right is that it looks from the outside like something magical. yet. Each time I undertake to paint a picture I have a sensation of leaping into space. you then slowly stir in rule-breaking and rule-making. Invention is made up of three parts: creativity. It’s so difficult to explain. they end up with solutions to problems that don’t exist. Such ideas seem futuristic rather than realistic because they have no connection with the real demands of the world’s population. Creativity is about approaching situations with a fresh eye and having ideas about how to address them.
In fact. While invention might feel somehow ‘magical’. even if it is wrong a percentage of the time. Although it can seem like the idea came from nowhere. trigger a break-out moment. he began to get anguished telegrams telling him to conclude the deal and come home. However. the late Sir John Harvey-Jones. only when you have an established record of trustworthiness. the expectancy effect may mean that these people’s ideas are no better than anyone else’s.’Writing is a job and you must treat it like one. a bath or a long walk in the park followed by more hard work and analysis which resulted in the breakthrough idea. this might mean looking at the data to check that their ‘gut feel’ was indeed accurate. was right.
RISK-TAKING – THE DANGERS
The original troubleshooter. Incubation of an idea can occur when you are doing productive mental work on some other project or piece of work. comes a phase of incubation. calculated risks and even then. and then develop the mathematics to explain it?’4 The accounts of those creative people above imply that they come up with the answer to a question or a solution to a problem without actively thinking it through. He realised during the negotiations that he might be able to get a better deal for his company and held out for another £200. In reality. Not so different from the sentence he scribbled down when he awoke: In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A Stately pleasure-dome decree. just before falling asleep he had been reading this sentence ‘In Xamdu did Cublai Can build a stately Palace’. not only should he have been congratulated but that he should have been praised even if the deal had fallen through. when walking the dog or in the middle of the night. Some organisational cultures want to believe that their leaders possess superpowers which cannot be learnt or replicated. study. It is rare for someone successful to rely solely on their belief in an idea without checking and double-checking their conclusions. Coleridge explained that his poem ‘Kubla Khan’ came to him in a dream. It was a risk. In other environments. It doesn’t just occur when you are chilling out at the day spa. . but that doesn’t mean they are unprofessional in their approach to their work. On the other hand. what looks like ‘gut feel’ to many successful people. But he was still convinced he could do a better deal. Harvey-Jones believed that. At the last minute. You will probably report yourself that you get your best ideas in the shower. When we stop trying to consciously think about the idea. the extra would go straight down to the bottom line as profit and was sure it was worth pushing for more money. Literary agent Carole Blake says creativity is vital for her authors. the ground work has been done some time before. he closed the contract. For some people.000. successful people aren’t complacent about creativity. they simply believe themselves to be right and push so hard that. They may not come to work every day and sit at their desk staring at a computer screen. It may involve an element of trust in oneself. and to us as onlookers. Despite their own account of this magical sensation of being right. but not seen the connection with their own issue. it might be best to present your conclusions as being based purely on thorough research.
. you can’t write all the time looking over your shoulder. It would be foolish to try to be successful and take no notice of the competition. told a story about when he was relatively junior at ICI and being sent off to negotiate a rather large £10 million contract. They put themselves into situations where ideas are most likely to strike. before the eureka moment comes a great deal of preparatory work. As we saw in Chapter 3. You may only be able to take small. They may have developed a set of values borne out of a lifetime of experience which inform their decisions so that. it means getting buyin from other people. After the creative leap has occurred (whether triggered by the latest blockbuster movie or a late night working on your sales figures). there comes a period of verification where the inventor checks his or her conclusions. may actually be expertise in disguise. It gets up people’s noses to be right all the time. when I collect data it almost always tells me that what I thought. using more conventional methods. although their decisions seem to be based on nothing but their gut. where ideas are generated unconsciously. there might be more gravitas in presenting your conclusions as being based on your remarkable intuitive abilities. However. It sounds so cocky to say that. trusting it is just as reliable as trusting thorough research and data (because even thorough research and data can be misleading). is something many of our experts mentioned as setting certain individuals apart. what I believed. it just occurs to them. which means that successful people have such strength of conviction that they manifest their ideas . staff may go to the cinema during the working day in order to refresh their minds and. For others. ‘I always wait for my muse to strike. After a few days. which can take only a few minutes or last for years.first. You may not be able to appear too risk-happy. On returning to base expecting a hero’s welcome. They may have spent years working in a particular field gaining a solid grounding which can then be applied to solving a problem later on.5 This ‘break-out’ moment is very common. followed by a nap. but not been successful. The person may have tried to solve this specific problem before. he was remonstrated for putting the business at risk. but he figured that if the risk paid off. the brain does the work for us subconsciously. It is highly risk-intolerant. they may find their best ideas occur at the golf course. there is evidence that this gut feeling is genuinely more often right than not and. everyone else comes to believe they are right too. And I make sure my muse strikes at nine in the morning every day. He showed he was willing to take risks for the good of the company and this was a quality which should have been rewarded and encouraged. Between this preparatory stage and the seemingly sudden ‘a-ha’ moment. Many inventive people have reported a sudden illumination after waking up from a nap. Politically. which is real. just as aware of what their competitors are doing as any successful businessperson would be: Someone said. only you and I know that it was really a combination of hard work. it is. How you choose to present this process is a different matter. eventually. seemingly out of nowhere. no preparatory work. They still do their research and are experts in their field. for others it means refining the work. You may have to act as if you are as cautious as the rest until you are established. just a flash of inspiration which they were able to assess only later. Instead. Enabler John Savage uses his own ‘gut feel’ to great effect: Whatever it is that makes you have that feeling. whether they are any good or not. they are actually based on years of education in the school of life. That you had the idea in the powder room may be irrelevant or even offputting. perhaps. still. This is why many successful people insist on ‘thinking time’. At Nissan Design America. . They may take long lunches with colleagues in order to spark interesting conversations and challenge each other’s opinions.6 What Harvey-Jones experienced will be familiar to most of us who have worked in the corporate environment. In addition. experience and knowledge. They might have seen other people try to solve it without success or they may have seen a similar problem in an unrelated industry solved effectively. This has a number of implications for risk-takers: 1. in fact. Most top writers are aware of what their competitors are doing because they want to make sure they aren’t replicating a plot that has just been used. as he was leaving the country. There was no planning involved. And this ability to generate ideas and solutions. 2. based on quite detailed preparation and then verification. but generally I am right.
The market expects continuity. Schultz didn’t let the norms of his day stand in the way of his thinking. The difference is only how radical that change is and how the message is communicated to a sensitive and less robust audience. but question the rules about how the company is structured. Richard Branson was told by Freddie Laker that an airline was the easiest (and probably most fun) way to lose millions of dollars. 38 per cent will be their manner and 7 per cent will be the content. That would be breaking the rules. broaden their appeal or introduce a new product. they want to move forward. It is less easy to come up with a replicable way of doing it. people regularly pay over £3 for a hot drink. in fact. If I am known in my organisation and I have consistently proven myself to you it doesn’t matter what I wear. The same analysis should be taken about what to wear as when taking any risk. They may. but successful rule-breaking is always a balancing act. What is the environment? Does breaking the rules set me apart as a future talent or call into question my professionalism? Will people have more respect for me if I dress unconventionally or less? And how much do I care?
BENDING. But the rest of us need some help. until you make it. but employees are also uncomfortable with change. The same is true in any field. some fans) when they change direction. If you take risks wisely it could be a real USP. put off some people (some readers. Rule-breaking is also risky when it comes to what you wear. but ask ‘How could it be better?’. There must be method in your madness. You may do as John Harvey-Jones did and stand for what you believe is right. ‘Unless a company is progressing the whole time. some employees. He didn’t let ‘the rules’ stand in his way. suffers as a result of change. Of those who are already at the top. Just as creativity always uses the current reality as its starting point. if you start straying from the expectations of your audience. often find that productivity reduces initially before exceeding previous performance levels once things have settled down. but what is the point in that? But if I say I take one day off a week to think and come up with new ideas. But the truth is that most people are conservative and have expectations about what successful people will wear. who specialises in headhunting for the retail sector. Ken Follett has changed direction many times because his audience is so big they will follow him. that’s a new rule that can also influence and inspire others to do the same.
. Also the market. Lucy Harris. Not only do customers resist any kind of change. But they have managed the message in such a way that the people they count on come with them. by the rules. it is. But if you are writing in a genre that has its own rules in that the audience has an expectation of certain things. I don’t just decide to take Monday morning off to just lie in bed. even though it may be unpopular. At one time. Rule-breaking may look radical. And moving forward means making changes. Despite the fact that he had to compete with world-class players who had been in the market decades longer. who represents some of the top fiction writers in the UK. At certain times in the economic cycle. A company which changes its brand in order to appeal to a younger market. She wants people to feel individual but also knows that. As John Harvey-Jones said. you need to dress appropriately for your industry and your company: We need to think about first impressions. It depends what they believe is most important to challenge.’7 What successful people are able to do is predict what conventions are the right ones to be questioned and which should be left alone. people with more tolerance for rule-breaking and change will do very well. Even then. Key Holder Oli Barrett agrees: It is easy to break the rules. those of us who like to shake things up will be less in demand and sometimes a more steady hand is needed. Consumers and book store buyers have come to expect a new summer bestseller from him. You have to judge what your audience wants of you. Not all of them enjoy a sustainable environment and they recognise that. BREAKING AND INVENTING THE RULES
Successful people are not satisfied with the status quo. But rules should only be broken when you have something better to put in their place. Peter James delivers his book at the beginning of August every year and it always goes straight in to the bestseller list when it’s published the next June. People simply dig in their heels at first. When you meet a client. some voters. They don’t want to tread water. A company which can broaden its appeal while still valuing its current customer base makes a change for the better. People probably told Schultz that there was no appetite for such expensive coffee. We can all think of examples like Richard Branson or Bill Gates to explain why we can go to work dressed in ripped jeans and ill-fitting jumpers. they will leave you. How often do you try something completely new? We are so resistant to change that organisations which bring about structural change. they have a much better choice of what to write and how to write. People are habitual – just look at the food you eat every week. They may decide to dress in a conventional way. moving backwards. but doesn’t consider that its current customers will be alienated by this change.8 The same applies to Virgin Atlantic Airways. Do they want you to appear radical or steady? Do they want you to have supernatural powers or be down to earth? Do they want you to surprise them or hold their hand? Successful people are able to bring about great changes without losing the support they require. Star Maker Carole Blake. Successful people ask. then you can explain it to other people and influence them to change the way they do things too.3. Branson went ahead and created one of the most profitable businesses in his empire. change uses current needs as its starting point. If there is a genuinely more effective way to do something. Having the invention ingredient is as much about communication as it is about having original ideas. 4. retailers and publishers want commercial authors to deliver a book a year. not connoisseur coffee drinkers. What is so special about one type of coffee that ordinary people. Risk-takers are valuable in such an environment (whether companies want to acknowledge that or not) and you could stand out from the crowd exactly because the culture is risk-averse. would shell out nearly a fiver to sit on a squishy sofa and drink flavoured milk foam? But they do. You will have to judge whether such behaviour marks you out as a future trouble-shooter or as a trouble-maker. Otherwise staff turnover in bookshops means a buyer hasn’t heard of them if they haven’t written for two years. they have got where they are going because they have already earned respect. thanks to Howard Schultz and his Starbucks chain. says that the current economic slump will be good for some of her candidates: Those people who are hungry for challenge and volatility will do really well this year because there is something to get on with. though. It’s something image consultant Sharon Connolly has grappled with. it was hard to imagine paying more than £1. They are change merchants.50 for a cup of coffee. Today. even if no job losses are made. Fifty-five per cent of what you think of a person when you first meet them is based on what they are wearing. says that successful authors must always balance the need to be inventive with the need to please their readers: Once an author becomes successful. ‘What needs to be changed? And what should remain the same? What is working today? And what isn’t?’ They are not inhibited in their imaginations by today’s norms. change is inevitable. it is important to make the right impression. of course. At other times.
6 Boden. p. Margaret. which means you must either appear to be more cautious or take risks openly and live with the consequences. London: Abacus 1992. However. p. • Creativity is most commonly found where expertise and preparation are left to stew for some time. Boston: Mariner Books. Jerry. risk and rule-breaking.
. 4 Root-Bernstein. 5 Ibid.5. • Once the mixture has stewed and a new idea has been produced. p. This can seem to be a magical process but. can be carried out by anyone. Robert S. Making It Happen: Reflections on Leadership.
• Invention is like a sauce made from creativity. p. 2001. and Michele Root-Bernstein. and Michele Root-Bernstein. • Most environments are hostile to change and risk.2. p.201. London: Fontana/Collins. it should be applied to current day or realistic future issues if the results are to be of value. John. The Creative Priority: Driving Innovative Business in the Real World. • Use your emotional intelligence to judge how to communicate messages about change. 8 Harvey-Jones. Robert S.88.18.
1 Hirshberg. London: Fontana/Collins. 1998. Making It Happen: Reflections on Leadership.23.And that’s the magical bit about invention. p. 1988. • Inventiveness can be used to address any challenge or problem. The Creative Mind. 7 Harvey-Jones. Boston: Mariner Books. New York: HarperBusiness. 2 Root-Bernstein. in truth. John. 2001. it normally needs to be worked into something usable and backed up with facts. 1988. Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People. 3 Ibid. Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People. People have more of an appetite at some times than at others.
I have clients who regularly miss family holidays to attend international board meetings. and when the opportunity came up to live and work there we had a two year old and my wife was pregnant with our second child. and there are even more people competing for fewer top jobs. Popular musicians often feel the same: they want to rest but instead commit to a gruelling world tour followed by six months in the studio producing their next album.
. • inordinate scope of responsibility that amounts to more than one job. let’s do it!’ There’s courage and spirit in that. sailing – so maybe there was an element of making up for some of the time that Dad wasn’t around. an author now has to satisfy their agent.m. Dinner was on the table in the evening. along with stressful travel that ‘throws one’s biological mechanisms into continual turmoil’ – hardly sounds attractive. he believed.. • fast-paced work under tight deadlines. rather than the owner-manager. laziness or bad judgement can turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear. only to return to the South West late on Friday night. that it is so difficult to find a balance between work and the rest of your life is that people at the top are expected to show their total personal commitment to a very large number of people – shareholders. This is probably quite typical behaviour in the workplaces you have experienced. or worked part-time. • availability to clients 24/7. says relationships only survive this pressure if the other partner is completely supportive: It is possible to have a rounded life if you have a supportive partner. Sometimes trying to keep everything together in this mix proves impossible and family life cannot survive. but must get back to their desk and start writing again. Perhaps it is easier to keep your marriage together if you are an employee. There isn’t an industry where success does not lead to more pressure to succeed . some day.3 If you work more than 60 hours a week. He says it is up to the individual to decide whether it is a price worth paying: In my own situation I haven’t paid a high price. if you can stand the heat. Enabler Deborah Meredith. getting home at midnight and attending working breakfasts at 6.m. Sir John Harvey-Jones was one of the first high-profile company chairmen to push the work-life balance agenda. Most of the men I have worked for had a wife who didn’t work. those with a hefty inheritance to support themselves while they work at their craft. they lovingly put all the ingredients together in a hot. Of course. I have clients who live in one city with their families but work in two other cities: they spend Monday to Wednesday in the North West head office and Thursday and Friday in the South East head office. Only the ownermanager I worked for was divorced as a result of the business. They have chosen it and therefore they can live with the implications of that choice. But on the whole they were quite happy and had solid marriages..m. people who are highly motivated to achieve success adapt their mindset so they do not see such a lifestyle as a sacrifice. starting early in the morning and leaving late at night. One study of college-educated men working full-time in the US found that those putting in a 50-hour week rose from 22. relentless. who has worked with many CEOs and company chairmen. but she said: ‘This will come along once in your lifetime. even if the potential to succeed is handed to you on a plate. Which isn’t to say that they love waiting around in airports. Working hard can pay off big time. When they stop. employees. it is easy to throw it all away. and to show you are working hard. a director or a partner. their commitment will be recognised. They find a way. as we have seen. they feel guilty because people are looking to them for a result. Add to this the influx of women into the workforce over the past 50 years. The best restaurants don’t buy their chicken Kievs ready-made and frozen for convenience. Being a success takes hard graft and that is our next ingredient. A 60-hour week translates into leaving the house at 7 a. commuting for an hour and then leaving work at 8 p. We didn’t sit around at night thinking. Multimillion pound salaries and bonuses paid to CEOs and other board members in some international companies mean there is the promise of a big financial pay-off if you make it to the top. In his book Making It Happen. We don’t want to see our top people living it up on good food and good wine. returning to be with their loved ones for a few days in the middle of the vacation before jetting off to some other important engagement. Having produced one or two popular books. Some people certainly have more opportunity to achieve success – those whose mother or father owns the business. We want to see them proving their worth. primarily by the individual themselves. But. No one is born a success. Phil Taylor’s job for Mattel involves considerable international travel and postings around the world. Yet even he acknowledged: I am bound to admit that in terms of producing the balance of life which I would personally see as being the ideal. Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce have coined a term for these kinds of high pressure. And. . This pressure is not confined to the business world. . I have clients who leave family and friends to take postings in far-flung parts of the world in order to further their career. It takes work. which means competition is that much greater. the rewards at the very top are much greater than ever before. as we have already seen. exhausted. artists and writers who end up on The Sunday Times Rich List after a particularly good year. All successes are created. At the same time. those with supportive families and friends. ‘I wish we could be in Indonesia’.1 The prime reason. I have a beautiful wife who sees my career path as an opportunity for herself and the children.Ingredient 10
Developing or honing the qualities already discussed in this book is going to take time and energy. Research shows that many of us are working significantly longer hours than in the past.5 per cent between 1980 and 2001. long-hours jobs – Extreme Jobs.m. sometimes. I have been relatively unsuccessful so far. It is hard work and seems. and clients who work two or three jobs in order to fund their real passion for writing or art in the hope that. • work-related events outside regular work hours. There is a spirit of adventure to it. with a briefcase of work to complete by Monday and a packed schedule of children’s activities to attend in the meantime. In addition to showing your personal commitment to those you work with there are other reasons why people’s taste for working long hours has increased since Sir John Harvey-Jones wrote his book Making It Happen in 1988. suppliers and customers. In 2005 there were 368 fewer corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 companies than there had been 10 years before.30 a. their publisher and their growing fan base with their next book. 35 per cent working more than 60 hours and 10 per cent working more than 80 hours a week. sweaty kitchen. They cannot be complacent. Many authors feel this pressure too. At the weekend they would go out as a family and the children had all sorts of hobbies – horse-riding. are a high earner and hold a position with at least five of these characteristics you are in an Extreme Job: • unpredictable flow of work. Complacency. Harvey Jones’s description of the lifestyle of the most successful businesspeople – including ‘sheer grinding brain power and the ability to live an intrinsically unhealthy existence’. many people become successful despite hardship and limited life chances.2 per cent to 30. And we’ve all heard of the musicians.2 Sixty-two per cent of high-earning individuals work more than 50 hours a week. The same applies in other fields: we’ve all heard of the Internet start-ups which make millions for their 20-something founders when they are sold to Google or eBay. arriving home at 9 p.
• large amount of travel. And then. the gumption to take advantage of it. both good and bad. these people tend to turn into insecure overachievers. came a great opportunity. It may be an aspect of self-awareness which gives them a greater emotional intelligence. do occur of course. You learn that you do something and it turns out alright and that it is worth making the effort. he put himself in the right place at the right time: Yes. one. They are aware of their own flaws and insecurities. parents may withhold encouragements because their children’s ambitions seem unrealistic. But. It isn’t all bad news. I was already there. Interestingly. In time. Because it isn’t enough to know what the answer is. ‘Would you be interested in doing whatever?’ I didn’t decide they were going to build a second factory in Indonesia. I took on Julian Stockwin who was writing a seafaring series. As we have already seen. . In socially disadvantaged groups. They don’t work to live but live to work. ‘Hey. • physical presence at workplace at least 10 hours a day. You make your own luck. I would have started my own business and made millions of pounds’ or ‘If my dad worked for the BBC. In those who work in global companies the figure is 45 per cent. I would have come up with that idea and I would have got that promotion’ say the wannabes.• responsibility for profit and loss. People don’t realise how much work they’ve put in to get into these situations. ‘I was in the right place at the right time. I would have taken on this author anyway because I love his work. I would have got my own show and become famous. their relationship with their children. You don’t want to get it wrong. But you have to remind yourself that this feeling is false. to be honest. out of nowhere. ‘fraud syndrome’ – or the ‘impostor phenomenon’ as it was described by Georgia State University psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes – is often found in individuals who come from families where parents are over-invested in achievement and where human warmth is lacking. By the time I started the job. Putting your success down to luck can leave a sour after-taste too. rightly or wrongly. You are the master of your destiny. so they accept that other people have flaws and insecurities.’ What a perfect excuse for a lacklustre career! In truth. And it is a phenomenon that Enabler Deborah Meredith has seen in her work many times: I think a lot of luck is down to hard work. he had left and was replaced by someone who didn’t see the same qualities in me! Too late. It seems as if they were just in the right place at the right time. it is something you learn. exposing yourself. Luck is low down on her list of success ingredients: I believe you make your own luck. the will. Some successful people are so unaware of their own qualities and achievements that they wonder why they are in a position of authority at all. They worked hard. it doesn’t even feel like work most of the time. when the right things came along I had already done something to put myself in the position where other people think.
WHAT’S LUCK GOT TO DO WITH IT?
Successful people work hard because they want to. Had the job been advertised a few weeks later when the new editor was in charge. In global companies. but I had done something where they said. Given the choice between doing their job and practically anything else. you have to be at the event in the first place and you have to go up to people and start conversations. a war breaks out somewhere. Sometimes you speak to the right person at an event by luck. Very shortly after a famous seafaring author died. ‘If I had been at that meeting. then the result was out of their control. • large number of direct reports. they are sometimes surprised that the pieces come together so neatly. And this might be why so many successful people believe they have simply been lucky. It is about taking the opportunity. But the real art is being brave enough to take the breaks when they are offered. But. Of course. The vast majority say their hours are self-inflicted – they do it because they want to. A vacancy opens at the perfect time for you. What successful people (or people on their way to success) are able to do is to notice and take those opportunities. And the cost? Most Extreme Jobholders say that their job interferes with their ability to maintain a home. . would you be interested in working on this project with us?’ Two. There is some wonderful luck sometimes. • responsibility for mentoring and recruiting. I took advantage of it. That requires courage. successful individuals is the ‘fraud syndrome’. They are passionate about what they do and see their long hours as a badge of honour. For these people the phrase ‘work-life balance’ has little meaning. that it makes them sensitive to others. they choose their work. That’s not lucky. That’s where the anxiety comes from. I probably would have received a rejection letter (I eventually proved my worth. the economy shifts.’ but for the most part we tailor the situations we find ourselves in. Key Holder Phil Taylor says he got a few lucky breaks. These are people on a mission. For most of them. ‘If I had got a big redundancy payment. though. the number is 76 per cent. Children who advance despite their background often have a lingering feeling about being ‘above themselves’ and wonder how long their success
. I’ve been lucky because the right things have come along. Work is life. But. a big part of it anyway. Sometimes people can disingenuously say. but they enjoyed it so they barely noticed. taking the risk. If I look at my own career. of course. events that look like lucky breaks occur frequently. That exposes you. But it might not feel like it because really successful people often forget they worked really hard. their relationship with their partner and even their sex life. I once got a great radio job because an editor thought I had potential. but you might not have a lucky future. there is a role for luck in success. you have to have the talent to make things happen. Star Maker Carole Blake says that luck plays only a small part in most people’s success recipe: Mostly people make their own luck. when you are a leader. And when you start talking to a lot of people about a concept. Unlucky things do happen and they are out of our control. They believe. ‘Fraud syndrome’ may assist some successful people in staying grounded. The ‘fraud syndrome’ concept is something which resonates with Enabler and strategist John Savage: There is quite a feeling of being fraudulent. motivation is in large part connected with enjoyment of the work itself. It is also quite common in individuals who are not expected to succeed. The luck argument is actually most frequently heard from onlookers who want a no self-blame justification for their own lack of success. The market was keen because the other writer had died. someone new comes to your company who takes a shine to you . Star Maker Lucy Harris is looking for top-quality candidates to take lead roles in the retail industry. I think you can have a lucky break. You have to have the initiative. Unpredictable events. Sixty-six per cent of people who hold an Extreme Job say that they love it. even amongst seemingly self-confident. but it took time). If a colleague was simply in the right place at the right time. Quite common. Because they are focused on pursuing a dream. Courage isn’t something you are born with. but it’s about how you bat those things away and get to the same end point. you can be sure there are 50 people who don’t agree with you. They found that 21 per cent of high earners meet these Extreme Job criteria.
You need to work on your inner game as well as your day job. They notice a pattern and take action. you are either in the wrong career or simply not motivated enough to achieve success at the highest level. Sylvia. very often by consulting people they respect or referring to written material for answers. there are a few extra ingredients you will need to add flavour to your dish. or on working more effectively with others. p. p. December 2006. Number One Bestseller or Prime Minister. and Carolyn Buck Luce.
WORKING ON THE INSIDE
This may be why so many successful people are interested in self-development. they often don’t advertise the fact. Sylvia. Because they are people of action. but they still pursue their own interests in personal development. However.110. But if you do. Success is a holistic pursuit. December 2006. 1988. This isn’t because they are self-obsessed (or rather. Harvard Business Review. they seek feedback. When successful people feel that they are holding themselves back. being proactive and the many other clichés which are so common because they are true. 2 Hewlett. getting discovered on the street or walking in to The X Factor auditions without having shown any interest in singing before.51. Manfred F. Becoming successful is not about accidentally landing in the right place at exactly the right moment. This work is often private and only communicated when there is a political advantage to be had from admitting frailty or flaws. ‘The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek’. It is about putting in the hours. 4 Kets de Vries. Work is a major part of life. Relationships can be part of the success mix if your other half is supportive and flexible. they don’t spend weeks and months stuck in a rut.285. and Carolyn Buck Luce. Successful people don’t wait for luck to strike. If you aren’t prepared to regularly choose work over other aspects of life. Harvard Business Review. you won’t get ahead. Not everyone can be Chief Executive. not something relegated to the nine to five. They want to know more about themselves. There is nothing wrong with that. They are working hard on themselves too.
. Not everyone wants to. but because they know that self-awareness is the key to better performance. September 2005. R. They need to know what makes themselves tick in order to understand what makes others tick and how to get the best from the people around them. get out of the kitchen. p. They know that lacking confidence.] 3 Hewlett. eventually. Harvard Business Review. Successful people aren’t just working hard at the day job. If you aren’t willing to put in the work. ‘The Dangers of Feeling Like a Fake’.
1 Harvey-Jones. They make their own. [Research by Peter Kuhn and Fernando Lozano of the National Bureau of Economic Research. ‘The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek’. John. London: Fontana/Collins. ‘Fraud syndrome’ can slip in to the success recipe if you haven’t dealt with issues from the past. it isn’t always because they are self-obsessed). They might not go on meditation retreats or learn Qi-Gong or other soothing martial arts (although some do).4 It seems as though the very aspect of their background which contributed so much to their desire to succeed also prevents them from enjoying it very much. successful people don’t think in these terms.51. doubting your self-worth and constantly fearing being found out can limit your enjoyment of success and. on improving their management skills. p.
Work-life balance is not an integral part of the success recipe.will last. Making It Happen: Reflections on Leadership. burning the midnight oil. wear you down so much that it starts to impact your performance. Many read publications like the Harvard Business Review to get the latest thinking on being a better leader. If you can’t stand the heat.
Still others wanted to emphasise the ability to build trust. The HP Way. The most successful stars aren’t one-hit wonders. perhaps shareholder needs second. often making the visitors feel uncomfortable because of their attitude. When the professed ‘brand values’ of the company are in contrast to the reality of working there. Audacious. They are efficient.Ingredient 11
Everyone has their own personal taste when it comes to the recipe for success. people become disillusioned. understood or rebellious for instance). which was seen as radical when it was first developed. we will perform periodic reviews of the marketplace to improve our offerings. despite changes in operating practices. • To provide high-quality products that combine performance with value pricing. but they cannot picture or feel what the future should be like. because musicians do this without standing at a podium in front of PowerPoint slides but through the emotional medium of song.
What lies at the core of your work? What are the values that guide every single aspect of your behaviour and the behaviour of the people around you? This is the part of your vision which provides inspiration and probably aspiration (you may not be there yet but you are aiming for it). I have been to many companies which claim to ‘put our people first’. And even those in the business who have direct contact with customers will spend a great deal of their time doing activities that don’t relate to ‘innovating new products and services’. What is wrong is that the leaders of the company are misleading when they insist that they value their staff as their greatest asset. Many companies claim they put employees first but at HP the right of employees to work in an environment where they can contribute their brainpower is a powerful and inspirational core ideology. look at why – what lies at the root of that priority? – and create a vision which inspires your people to want to work towards that end. In truth. To this end. People need to know when they have arrived at their destination. Think it doesn’t matter in the music business? Of course it does. shareholders and customers. If shareholder value is number one. naturally. • To constantly strive to meet or exceed our customer needs and expectations of price. others thought manners were most vital. they put profit first. You may find that the key to your success lies in the ingredients in this chapter either because you feel you are already working on all the others or because something in this chapter just tickles your taste buds. • To stay ahead of the competition by innovating new products and services based on the needs of our customers and market demand. you certainly won’t be able to inspire others. Where most aspiring leaders (and many who are already in the top spot) go wrong is that they do not connect with us on an emotional level. Some of our experts stressed ‘steel’ over and above every other ingredient. It must be compelling and measurable. displeased. Some people are great at working through a list of jobs. Henry Ford described a world where everyone with a good salary could afford a car and horses would disappear from the streets. Far better to be frank. They are ‘saying something’. How do you expect them to remain motivated and focused when they are sitting in yet another meeting discussing changes to the office space or problems with the company intranet? Not everyone is naturally visionary. It’s all mission statements and value propositions. was the belief that employees’ brainpower was the company’s most important resource. They had been told that their job was to ‘keep the place tidy’. If they do. Successful people are honest when they create and communicate their vision. visionary but. Picking up litter was one of the ways they could improve the visitor experience. By keeping the site clean they were contributing to that vision. The diversified technology company 3M still commits to solving unsolved problems innovatively even though it has changed direction and sold off many successful parts of the company over the years. so every time someone undid their hard work they were. positive. A great vision often comes in two parts. a curry without the seasoning is just a plate of meat and veg. they don’t feel any connection with them and they don’t understand where they fit in relation to them. The boss spent some time with the cleaning staff and noticed their building frustration. service. culture and business strategy. Hewlett-Packard has the HP Way which. Having ‘vision’ in the corporate world tends to translate into creating a one-sentence statement which sums up the purpose of the business or project or piece of work. He decided to change the message to ‘create a fantastic experience for our visitors’. They would make a face and reluctantly clear the mess. risky. After all. keeping customers happy third and trying to keep their staff happy last. they have a message or they make people feel a certain way (excited. The cleaning staff at an American theme park I know of felt hugely stressed and unhappy whenever visitors dropped litter on the ground.1 Both of these are examples of core ideologies which can inspire staff. In fact. so it would be remiss of me to leave it out of this book. Some of the most successful businesses in the word have adapted immensely to changing technology and products without losing their core ideology. It is your core ideology – what you or your business stands for. and selection. as was being helpful with directions. because they have engaged their audience in something bigger. The ability to imagine the big picture future and engage people in support of it is vital in any profession and any industry. we actually feel even more drawn to their vision than we do in a more conventional presentation. It should never have to change. These are added extras that at least one of the experts mentioned as being important. some of our experts wanted to pepper the recipe with their own special blend of herbs and spices. Do you want to work for these companies? Do these statements get you really fired up? Do you even know what they mean? Most people in large organisations don’t know that these statements exist. How can the reception staff or the IT help desk or the people in accounts ‘perform periodic reviews of the marketplace’? It doesn’t have anything to do with them on a daily basis. a reality.
. How a vision is expressed makes all the difference. Can you connect with something in your work that gets you excited and gives you butterflies in your stomach when you think of it? If you can’t. smiling at people and taking pride in their work. And in addition to the ten ingredients described already. There is nothing wrong with this order of priority. while establishing a successful relationship with our customers and our suppliers. These ingredients aren’t necessarily secondary. very effective and certainly hardworking. remains constant. Here are some examples I found on the Internet. A vision should make us tingle and get to us in an emotional way rather than relating to profit and loss.
The second part of a vision is the envisioned future – a 10 to 30-year Big Fat Audacious Goal with a description of how it will feel to get there. in the end. Most people cannot connect with these statements because their job function isn’t included in the statement. VISION Vision is mentioned in every leadership handbook and at every company away-day.
you may need to find another job. They have clarity around their vision and are able to communicate it to others. I will prove it again. They stick with them even if that puts them in an uncomfortable position sometimes. They may not be great orators who rally all the staff at the annual Christmas party. Failure is something you learn from. And then I proved myself successful at that level so they asked if I wanted to come to Europe. It’s the same with people who start their own companies and go on to have great success. They behave in ways that are congruent with their message. Those who resist are showing that they are not willing to play the game. Headhunter and Star Maker Lucy Harris says that the ability to look failure in the eye is a particularly important quality today: As a general rule. problems often blow up. Try to clarify it without losing its essence. Key Holders. top people are having to deal with more failure this year than ever before. OK. in fact most people. He wanted to work in a variety of leading restaurants and learn skills from a variety of great cooks. on your way up the ladder you may not be able to influence the vision. new environment. chopping vegetables.Successful people not only have a vision. They regard failure as a learning opportunity. shows that he was not motivated by his ego. in truly innovative environments. meeting with small groups or even holding one-to-ones. but are able to engage people behind a vision. If you can’t get behind it because it goes against what you believe. Now. And. That is normally fine when things are going well. successful leaders do not bend or break the rules. But.2 In time. If this means pitching in and doing jobs that are ‘beneath’ them. Sometimes they are being asked to prove their ability out of a genuine need. in the shape of average products that do not fully satisfy customers. They are encouraged that they are not alone. with numerous Michelin stars to his name.’ It’s not a risk because you know you can do it. If they are truly confident that they can demonstrate their skill. Enablers and Star Makers need proof. After some years. it does mean there are casualties. ‘If that’s what I need to do to carry on this path. they need to simply roll up their sleeves and get on with it. Well. a baby would never learn to walk. He knew that he had to prove himself to each new boss. but when times are tough. in most cases. However. You may just be tasked with communicating it. new job. overcoming our defensiveness and embarrassment and modelling the same behaviours we were expecting from the staff all helped to reinforce an atmosphere tolerant of failure. preferring to believe they will go away of their own accord or never bubble up to the surface and cause overt issues. but they do not see themselves as failures. They focus on what they know will work and try to patch up problems. Worst case scenario. or it is implicit in their work. Failure forces us to try different methods and. You have to think. It also enabled us to open doors that would have remained closed. it seems to have paid off. for now. get to know what it is and find a way to express it that can inspire people around you.
LOSE THE EGO
Top chef Gordon Ramsay changed jobs a lot in his early professional career in the kitchen. Just watch contestants on The Apprentice claiming to ‘lead from the front’ or be a ‘people person’ and then behave in completely contradictory ways. Some people would say.
DEALING WITH FAILURE
We have already seen that successful people all have failures in their past. It is a quality that Mattel’s Phil Taylor rates very highly: I took a risk going to Hong Kong when many people didn’t really understand why the job should be there. They may have failed business or returned manuscripts. This attitude. then that’s what I need to do.3 Jerry Hirshberg was the founder of Nissan Design International. learning their way rather than bringing habits from another kitchen to his work. Words are not enough. Research into the behaviours which are most likely to keep you employed when redundancies are being made shows that people who are ambidextrous and willing to do two jobs at once when times are tough will be more secure than those who resist. start to consciously envision your core ideology and future. Write it down or illustrate it in pictures. This can only happen in a culture more concerned with the potential lurking in failure than in the mere avoidance of its repercussions. success meant the lab doubled in size and new designers joined the team. something which looks like bad manners. the current company vision is probably so meaningless that you can interpret it however you like and start getting people engaged behind that interpretation. he started at the bottom again. People often make over-inflated statements about themselves (‘I have what it takes to be the next winner of The X Factor’). but by pulling at our heart strings or finding something which resonates with our values. In fact. but his new leader wanted him to start from scratch. fine. By identifying what was going wrong he and his people were able to correct it: Confronting our errors openly. Successful artists can usually describe their vision. they know they have done everything within their power and their remit to save it and this helps make that failure more understandable. Tensions and conflicts led to product ideas which received cool responses from the Japanese headquarters. You’ve got to prove your credibility again. from a chef known for his strong personality. Having said that. they do not consider these events as failure. It is self-confidence. those people will be able to influence change in the business. If they are in charge of a sinking ship.
. Individuals who resist playing this game may think they are simply standing up for themselves and believe that this quality will be admired. At Google the mantra is ‘Please fail very quickly – so that you can try again’. but until we see what they can do we cannot be sure. Hirshberg believes that the old team had become set in its ways after a very short period of time and the new team members had noticed. His achievements in his previous kitchen were of interest. Every time he went to a new kitchen. Problems which had never been there before started to emerge. knowing he would end up armed with a range of approaches and be able to choose which one he wanted to promote in his own kitchen.4 Most organisations. ‘Why do I have to prove myself again?’ You’ve got to be prepared to say new boss. But what most employers are looking for is people who will muck in. It is only if we give up that failure marks the end. The only reason people fight this requirement to prove themselves time and time again is insecurity. so hopefully you are learning so that it doesn’t have to happen again. at least until the greater and more costly failures that might have occurred had we continued on our original path. Not through a mission statement full of bland words and even blander sentiment. No problem. armed with his previous experience. you don’t even know what it is. not empty claims. workplace dynamics that mean teams are not fully effective and oversights that mean accounting procedures are less than accurate. they will happily show anyone who asks what they can do. they are being asked to show their commitment to the team. If the vision relates to how staff should be treated in the workplace. failure is encouraged. At times of recession this is particularly important. Sometimes they are being asked to prove their ability as a test of attitude. Some are able to understand where they went wrong and others can’t see where they were accountable at all. Of course. Without falling over. They are afraid to open a can of worms if they delve too deeply. And they walk the talk. They may work in more subtle ways. try to avoid failure as much as possible. a design lab set up by Nissan in the US to originate fresh. And if you aren’t in big business. through trial and error. rejection letters or marriages that didn’t stand the pressure. You will not be successful in an environment which conflicts with your values. revolutionary ideas for motor vehicles. rather than a waypoint along the route to success. Some characters deal with it better than others. He eagerly accepted this reality. we find what works for us.
Thomas H. This is perfectly healthy. lose some weight. the long hours. ‘Building Your Company’s Vision’. Porras. Phil Taylor says: The ability to make a difference. Vision is all very well but there must be substance behind it. When things turn out as well as expected or better than expected. increasingly men and women are going under the knife in order to conform to an image they believe will be more acceptable. Breast augmentation was the most popular surgery for women. Going further would mean sacrificing values they believe are important and this matters more to them than achieving conventional measures of success. even boring and perhaps put great strain on their health. At certain times. But you can define success by different criteria – those based on what gives meaning and satisfaction to your life.6 These figures come as no surprise to image consultant Sharon Connolly. If your recipe is lacking flavour. if Virgin crashed he would go off to his island for one last holiday and probably come up with another idea. more than 32. They are willing to do what it takes. Today’s children just want to be famous for being famous.000 cosmetic procedures were carried out in the UK. Beautiful people are already a few steps up the ladder. If you want to get ahead. They want to prove they were right. Harvard Business Review. it might need a good dash of something spicy. p. p. the responsibility and the risks. For them. 5 In private conversation with author. but keep it subtle. it must have been an accident. Jerry. they do it because they want to.66. how can you improve? And if you don’t know why you succeeded. However. p. Harvard Business Review. the prospect of one day retiring and taking it easy is highly motivating and the perpetual battle to stay ahead of the rest would become wearisome. People believe that looking younger and more attractive will help their prospects which.114. • Seasoning should suit your own taste. The Creative Priority. The never ending quest doesn’t work for everyone. By all means have cosmetic surgery if you want to.baaps. Asking.
• Some success dishes are all about the seasoning. Deborah Meredith agrees. believing that what successful people enjoy is the never-ending nature of their quest: I haven’t met anyone who has achieved what they wanted to achieve and been unhappy. Too much can be worse than doing nothing at all. once you understand what makes you happy.’ They just have an idea and want to see it to fruition. But people who are constantly looking to better themselves. of course. Knowing what makes you happy is key to deciding how successful to become. I can’t imagine Einstein thinking. and even to see where success could have been greater. consciously or unconsciously. or with a healthy business making a nice profit or with a top 100 bestselling book is enough.
Most of the experts interviewed for this book agreed that successful people are having fun. If you are overweight. In this book we have assumed success needs to include great wealth. . Many people choose. improve themselves may never be quite satisfied but they are probably happy. They don’t have a USP. Fat people are assumed to be lazy. For some.net/?id=34880 [Research by The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (www. then you are making a decision to go no further. James C. Janet. and you are fat. in turn. we tend to celebrate without really understanding why things went right. Sep/Oct 1996. And tastes are constantly changing. Of course.Not only do successful people accept. and Diane Coutu. September 2008. ‘Where did it all go right?’ can help you to learn from success. London: HarperBusiness. As athlete Sebastian Coe once remarked. They will not exclude a tactic if they think it will work and if it fits with their values. go back to the UK and do that. and that’s more important than being rich or famous. analyse and even embrace failure. p. Harvard Business Review. ‘How to Protect Your Job in a Recession’.5 per cent with many of them having nose jobs. If you don’t enjoy this kind of thing. And this enjoyment may be why they are so unstoppable. she says: People who are hugely driven will also change their physical appearance by working out or having surgery to fit this ideal. but also the needs of your business or industry. 4 Hirshberg. 1998. especially where the choice was a conscious one.news-medical. ‘If you don’t know why you’ve failed. Whereas someone like Richard Branson .
1 Collins. not to go any further because they are not willing to do what it takes.]
. ‘Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine’. lose weight. • Remember not to overdo the seasoning. according to Enabler Vicki Day: It isn’t about ‘the greater glory’ or going down in history.’5
THEY DO WHAT IT TAKES
In 2007. This may just be the next step. But even then they are still striving for more. . high status or renown. April 2008. the not-for-profit organisation established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Despite (or perhaps because of) the pressure.116. And. 6 www. 3 Davenport. but may explain why your more ambitious colleagues are rising up the ranks more quickly than you.org. Surgery on men increased by 17.uk). and Jerry I. so it can be repeated. ‘This will make me a million. the ability to shape and form a direction .. . and Bala Iyer. some of these ingredients are more in demand than at others. 2 Banks. you can devise your own definition of success. . Jeff Grout. How you look matters. If you are not willing to do what it takes. but they do the same with success..1. While it is not vital to be a slim size 12 or to look like George Clooney. you are in the wrong job. what these numbers show is that some people are willing to compete in any way they can. stopping at middle management. most successful people have not had surgery and certainly wouldn’t recommend it as the way to progress. an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year. And it is this general attitude which separates those who get to the top from those who do not. Some people will determine their success by material things and those people may not be happy. Top dogs used to invest in a high-quality toupee in order to appear more ‘with it’. will help them feel better about themselves.
When the bank manager asks where else he has looked for financing. that others are not willing to acknowledge him in return: There is a lack of generosity sometimes with people you have helped who don’t help you back. their employees. you keep looking until someone says yes. some wannabes take their cue from the ‘You’re fired’ approach they see on everything from The Apprentice to The X Factor. surprise. then you notice when good things happen and this reinforces your belief. The individual loses credibility because people cannot trust what he says. genuine and honest (within the rules of play that exist in their industry). And then there are those more subtle poisons based on oversights. organisations or societal pressure get in their way if they believe in what they are doing. They often do quite well. Without other people’s help. This is looked upon very poorly and word tends to get around. occasionally. They become well known and well respected in their industry or their circle. People begin to feel uncomfortable discussing things with him. there are also behaviours and qualities they really do not want to see. Just as there are behaviours and qualities that Star Makers. such behaviour is rarely motivated by pure altruism. Having good manners is not the same as being a pushover. They tend to treat people well (those who matter to them. so people are not interested in them. the more opportunities are likely to come their way. He goes to the bank to get a business loan. Those who network effectively don’t have a single ‘win’ in mind. They expect you to give them something first and.
LACK OF GENEROSITY
One ingredient which can limit a person’s success is lack of generosity. Unconsciously. This means there may be some ‘wounded souls’ along the way. he believes they are trying to find flaws in his idea and gives short. he lists a large number of people and institutions who turned him down. Key Holders and Enablers want to see in their prodigies. But there are still rules of behaviour which are upheld by most. so he is therefore perceived as unreliable. He has not demonstrated any track record and has not taken any action to prove he will do what he says. according to our experts at least.
I have met many ambitious individuals who believe the world is against them. other people are more than willing to lend a hand. but their belief system is holding them back. aggressive answers. They are generous with their time and earn the trust of influential and powerful people. surprise. some people network with purely selfish motives. often by giving help and advice and asking for little in return. many go out of their way to minimise the cost to others of their ambition. They know that success often comes down to who you know. Poisons come in two forms. selfishness or insecurity which cause avoidable damage to others and which will also get in the way of getting ahead. They have many of the qualities mentioned so far. They don’t head straight over to Joe Bloggs. When the time comes that they need help in return. It is certainly true that the 10 key ingredients we have seen so far have more than a little ‘edginess’ about them. they build their network over time. the bank decides he is not a good risk and declines him a loan. Key Holder Oli Barrett goes out of his way sometimes to help people but finds. They know that the bigger and more solid their network. when you ask for something back they are nowhere to be seen. ‘What does this person care about?’ the answer is always ‘Himself’. They certainly do not set out to harm anyone and this is certainly not where they get their pleasure. so it is worth knowing what yours are. you will give up after the third person has said no. If you believe that people won’t help you. we look for evidence that this is true. Successful people are tough-minded and determined and they do not let individuals. They are not interested in people. at least) and typically pursue success for more than just personal gain – they may want to succeed for their family. so he is immediately on the defensive. we may even create scenarios in order to prove ourselves right. If you believe people will help you. most try to avoid injury being caused to other people and. It is this second form of poison we are going to focus on. using whatever means possible’ has become the Holy Grail of what it takes to be successful and. Andrew believes that life is tough. these people are demonstrating the exact opposite of the good manners that so many of our experts rated as vital. In a way. but it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as ‘Poisons’. lying or personal vendettas for instance. Instead. But our attitudes do influence our behaviours. When we believe that the world is out to get us.Ingredient 12
We could call this chapter ‘What Not to Do If You Want to Be Successful’. believe it or not. so the intimacy is gone. remarking that they were short-sighted idiots. You can have heaped tablespoons of the ingredients in this book and then add one of these poisons and ruin the whole dish. and give and take is one of those. All they have to do then is prove they have the ability to do what they say they can do. people are selfish and everyone is against him. but don’t end up making a success of all areas of their life. In terms of David Maister’s ‘Four Dimensions of Trust’. when they see him at a business lunch and thrust their card in his hand while delivering a monologue about their inventive new product. victims of the successful person’s determined pursuit of achievement. thus proving to Andrew that they had no intention of helping him and were just wasting his time for the fun of it. Such lack of generosity doesn’t guarantee failure. Let’s take the fictional example of Andrew. Of course. An over-exaggeration of course. you are more likely to get the job. Lack of generosity will certainly taint your recipe. while they may accept it as inevitable. And. He is convinced that the bank will turn him down. They have no intention of giving anything up front which would prove their commitment. ‘Take out the opposition. but it may mean it is more difficult to succeed. even ruthless place. Common limiting beliefs include:
. life is a struggle and you have to fight for absolutely everything on your own. They may act in ways which would go against your own personal code of conduct. They are those behaviours which are intended to cause pain or unhappiness in others – bullying.1 this kind of behaviour scores badly all around. respected and promoted on the basis of their hard-nosed attitude. They are motivated by the desire to show everyone they are right and everyone else is wrong. I have certainly witnessed individuals who emulate this style in the mistaken belief that they will be admired. few successful people get pleasure from this aspect. get the contract or get the deal. However. The world of work can be a tough. If you believe in ‘paying it forward’ (I do something good for someone and perhaps something good happens to me). It can be a hard life with tough choices along the way and many make what we would consider to be sacrifices in order to achieve their goals. They are after a quick win. And when they ask. on the assumption that you already know if you are being intentionally mean and nothing I say here is going to stop you. if the project is worthy. When they ask him questions about the business. but that doesn’t mean they are nasty. as a coach. The most obvious of these are the unpleasant or even unacceptable characteristics often highlighted in media portrayals of successful people. their supporters or the greater good. most successful people are moral. However. the owner of a large manufacturing company. Great networkers know that their groundwork will pay dividends later on. Most successful people have spent many years networking. Inevitably. Where there is a pre-existing trusting relationship. However.
codes of behaviour and centres of power. In the context of discussing young sportspeople whose parents have invested heavily in them (in all senses). but it may also be unhealthy. But they are getting their own needs met through pursuing a particular professional path. causing them significant damage and taking a serious negative toll over time. Not only do you have to contend with the ups and downs of your journey in terms of your own emotions. Over time your personal standards become eroded. Adrian Moorhouse and Professor Graham Jones have seen misplaced motivations in both sportspeople and businesspeople. It begins as a way to bring about the changes you believe in. you are so entrenched in this culture that you no longer question it. You put huge pressure on yourself by taking responsibility for the well-being of others over and above your own well-being. but achieve a greater good. Every time something lucky happens. interesting and fun person to be around. Before long you will start to feel like a lucky person and have no more excuses for holding yourself back (I am not a great believer in luck as a success ingredient. Instead of fighting the culture you play along. You stay behind late at the office because everyone else does. if you change your beliefs and decide that you are lucky. As we have seen earlier in this chapter. You can then blame this for your lack of success. over time. So instead of seeing yourself as unlucky. And so it is perpetuated.I am not good enough. This is not to say that they are selfish in the negative sense. They put themselves at the centre of their motivation. In reality. The music industry. compromising someone’s privacy. reinforcing it. You leak some information to powerful decision-makers. you will start looking for evidence that this is true. you could see yourself as someone who doesn’t believe in luck. life is hard. They know what they want to do. By the time you are in charge.)
People who succeed are generally doing something they believe in. Because we tend to justify our limiting beliefs by drawing on the evidence that they are true. The culture of whatever industry you work within is powerful. They are self-aware about their needs and how to supply those needs. Just as ‘acting as if’ you are confident can bring you the results of a confident person and in turn make you feel genuinely more confident. but there is a line between flexibility and abandonment of your own core values. Let’s say you perceive yourself as unlucky. This does not bode well for long-term participation or even enjoyment. But whether this habit of putting others’ needs first started with a lack of self-confidence or developed because you acted as if you didn’t matter and eventually became unconfident. you come to believe that you were simply naïve and now that you have more experience you understand the real way of the world. it is common to lose sight of this as you progress. disregarding your own needs is certain to ruin your recipe for success. If you aren’t sure. They stay in situations which do not work well for them and play down their accomplishments. as you will have seen. . Look for the luck in everything. good things don’t happen to me. Do any of these feel familiar? It is worth assessing what your beliefs are about yourself and about the world. their motivation may still be high.
Most ambitious people start off with a clear moral code. the artistic community . In fact. they all have their own values. When this is missing because they put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. They may not like to disagree with people and worry about hurting people’s feelings. Perhaps you began your working life with the belief that it was possible to find a healthy balance between time in the office and time outside. However. However. no matter how much you try you cannot guarantee other people’s happiness. bad things happen to good people. While it may not be possible or even advisable to hold on to everything you believed when you first began. it will never work. people who care only about themselves do not generate trust by others. they know the values that motivate them and they hold themselves to certain standards of behaviour which they believe will not only help them achieve their personal goal. but you also know that telling people may make you unpopular). They do not disregard other people. the business community. this is a distant memory. a great obstacle to success is losing touch with yourself and your values. as Professor Jones puts it: These performers are very aware of their parents’ desires for their success and have been ‘doing it for them’ rather than to satisfy their own needs. Such behaviour sometimes begins as an act (deep down you know you are fabulous. and most successful people care about more than themselves and their own gratification. . Part of that is selfish. In order to achieve success.
. you will have a very clear memory of all the times you have been unlucky. Maybe you get drawn into ‘bad politics’. People who do this often worry about appearing selfish and so they go to the other extreme. Star Maker and headhunter Lucy Harris says: They know their goals and they go for them. It is now the norm for you to play this game and it has become almost impossible to go back. It is possible to create new assumptions or beliefs which will help you progress. ‘acting as if’ you are not worthy can bring you the results of someone who is not worthy and make you feel genuinely worthless. They may be able to see your limiting assumptions more clearly than you. then over time you begin to believe it. But by getting your own needs met and achieving your personal and professional goals you become an inspirational. Losing your perspective happens subtly. When the time comes for you to be the boss. That is a far more reliable way of bringing happiness to others. people are just after a quick buck. You have resources which you can share with other people and you have energy which you can put into people or causes you care about.2 Putting other people’s needs before your own can manifest itself in a number of ways. one sometimes has to be flexible. assuming you do learn along the way and revise some of your simplistic attitudes as you mature. people cannot be trusted. everybody hates me. but you have to handle the emotions of other people who are looking to you for their happiness. make a note of it. but justifying it as a way to challenge the stagnant status quo. You create work to do in that time so that you seem busy and important. ask other people. And that reinforces your belief that you are not a lucky person. This might be a more powerful and useful shift. Maybe you get drawn in to the ‘presenteeism’ culture. I am unlucky. They sacrifice themselves for the sake of other people and under-value their own worth. the literary industry.
Joel. Harvard Business Review. You can’t do that if you have created barriers.archives/5/55 2 Jones.000 or more. January 2007. Very few workers make unfair dismissal claims and workers who remain understand why the decisions were made.124. Do they help you achieve your goals or sabotage your efforts? Get rid of limiting assumptions and replace them with positive ones which will aid your progress. Graham. It does not feel like they thought it would. bonus or contract. Robert S. Do not lose sight of what you wanted to achieve and why. Fear can motivate you to pull up the ladder behind you in the hope that subordinates or colleagues will not overtake you. Am I communicating? Do people around you know what you stand for and what is important to you? Maybe there is some reason why you are reluctant to tell others what is in your mind. 6. so handling it fairly. If you inhibit people’s willingness to get into that dialogue. How am I spending my time? Have you become drawn into firefighting or ‘busy’ activities because it is easier than dealing with what is really important to you? Successful people stay focused on what is important. Harvard Business Review.
.4 1. Events which may not have flustered you in the past may start to get under your skin and your reactions may be out of proportion. there are numerous claims of unfair dismissal and even workers who keep their jobs are unhappy and their performance suffers. Are you? 4. 4 Kaplan. ‘Why It’s So Hard to Be Fair’. But truly confident people help other people to achieve their potential knowing that this is no threat to them or their position. 2007. 2. or if people are in awe of you or jealous of you. One unfair dismissal case can cost £50. p. you reduce your ability to gather information. Disregarding your own needs in order to try to satisfy other people will adversely affect your enjoyment of success and is unlikely ever to be quite to the taste of those you are trying to please. but they have to.3 If they were being honest.It is still possible to reach the top. p.
1 http://davidmaister. I am here to get things done. Those who are able to keep their perspective. Perhaps this is because you find it hard to justify to yourself. Consequently. 3 Brockner. Keep your core values and moral code alive by checking in with yourself regularly and taking an honest. honestly and bravely can certainly save a great deal of money. • Over time. This is a guaranteed way to destroy trust and discourage those who are able to give you a leg up.90–91. let alone to others. Oxford: Spring Hill. ‘I am not here to be popular.’ But staying open to feedback will keep you true to yourself. How do I behave under pressure? Over time. Am I still open to ideas? The world is constantly changing. Am I helping others to grow? Your success relies on other people. but now they are so much a part of the system that they cannot change it without also calling their own behaviour into question.com/podcasts. Am I open to feedback? It is easy to close your ears to what other people are saying about you and justify this by thinking. They expected to be able to change things once they got there. but you may have become stuck in your ways. And losing sight of your values is a false economy. 7.
• If you want to poison yourself and possibly others. politically correct or cautious because you don’t want to risk losing that promotion. Fairness saves businesses money. 5. ‘What to Ask the Person in the Mirror’. but are able to bring about changes in culture which benefit everyone and maybe save or make their business a fair bit of money too. pp. live by their values and hold on to their moral code are not only more fulfilled when they reach the top. Let’s say that two organisations need to make redundancies. Developing Mental Toughness: Gold Medal Strategies for Transforming Your Business Performance. Look around you and listen to new perspectives so you do not become part of the old order.116. The second explains the strategic purpose of the layoffs and managers at all levels make themselves available to any employee who wants to talk. The first requirement to live a good life is to understand the difference between truth and falsehood. But on reaching the top many people complain that it isn’t what they expected. and return to their high performance levels rapidly. a great recipe can become bland or even go off completely. and Adrian Moorhouse. I am sure the managers in the first company would admit that they ducked out and compromised their values because it was hard work to live by them. even if it is hard to hear. March 2006. whether you have become more tentative. • Ask yourself how your beliefs are holding you back. • A sure way to sour any success you achieve is to do it purely for other people. even if they are unhappy about the outcome. critical look at what you’re doing. argue or complain about the decision. 3. Ask yourself what types of events create pressure for you and how your reactions might be undermining your success. The first handles it badly saying to those who are being let go that they don’t want to do this. John Savage believes staying true to your values is vital if you are to make good decisions: So much of life is about dialogue. Am I being true to myself? Ask yourself whether your actions reflect who you truly are. take help when it is offered but never help anyone in return. There are a number of questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you are keeping your perspective. and then not being available to answer questions or explain the reasons for the job losses because they are uncomfortable and want to avoid confrontation. stress builds.
it is important to put your own needs first when pursuing success. with the help of those around them. Everyone will have their own sense of integrity. why you react the way you do and what ‘feeds’ you is key to enjoying any success you do have. thinking this is what will give your recipe the extra spice it needs. Success is a fleeting moment. As soon as they get close to a goal they change it.2 the theory is that we must make choices based firstly on what we feel is right in relation to our own values and standards of behaviour. who describes himself as a ‘virtual CEO’. Indeed part of its attraction is the belief that they’ll finally feel complete. enlarge it and make it ambitious. Here are some other questions which may help you create the perfect recipe for success. As you choose which ingredients to highlight in your recipe make sure you are in integrity in the way you apply them. it doesn’t feel like enough. And the same is true with needs. be followed by another fleeting feeling of success . They have had successes but because they do not perceive themselves as a finished product. you can pursue your wants. Ironically. And while that isn’t enough on its own. in part. once you become CEO or Number One in the charts. Getting the balance right will be. But just like our appetite. the ‘full’ feeling doesn’t last for long. My scepticism was based on the fact that so many successful people cite it as central to their success and yet many struggling entrepreneurs. Those who dream of success might imagine it as achieving a lifelong ambition which is so fulfilling that it is ‘enough’.Chapter 13
Combining the ingredients
As I’ve been writing this book. in a couple of years. And you can choose what kind of journey that is. As we saw in Chapter 12. You may focus initially on honing your talent and letting the other ingredients simmer quietly in the background only to find. say – a ‘successful’ person is unlikely to feel like that. I only want to work six months of the year. Armed with the ingredients for success you now have to blend them together to create your own unique recipe. But you can apply some structure to the decisions you make about what to focus on and what to emphasise right now as you embark on your journey. Many people go wrong by pursuing their wants first – I want to be the boss. Keeping your head down and compromising on what you believe in for 10 or 20 years in the belief that when you get the big prize it will all have been worth it is a huge price to pay if. full. When you fly by plane. only to discover that in your industry – or due to your personality – graft is less significant than good manners. . . They think that once they have it. But then they get back to work. This integrity forms the solid foundation on which the rest of your life rests. They may achieve their original goals but by then they have already moved the goalposts further away. the dream of reaching the end of the journey is not the primary motivator for successful people. they all replied ‘marginally’ – despite being leaders in their field with a proven track record. All of these ingredients can be manipulative. you are always told in an emergency to fit your own oxygen mask first before fitting a mask on your child. success. a waypoint along a journey. and that they can relax. It is fine to keep adapting and adjusting your recipe until you find the right combination for you. they’ll feel satiated. creating a bigger goal. before the whole process kicks off again. Once you have made decisions based on behaving with integrity. misleading or misused if taken to extremes or applied with bad intentions. You may believe you need to focus on putting in the hours. once you know you are behaving with integrity and have your needs met.
WHAT AM I PASSIONATE ABOUT?
At the start of this book. that an itch has been scratched. On a difficult day – having to make staff redundant. If your needs have been met. but may not find the satisfaction they anticipated. professionals and artists are incredibly passionate about what they do. This is not to say you completely disregard the needs of other people. and striving towards. Being in integrity means meeting your personal duties or obligations and living within your personal code of right or wrong. Knowing what you are passionate about entails knowing yourself deeply. I want to be rich. and they may even enjoy the fruits of their success for a little while. they cannot judge whether they themselves are successful. This is why it is vital to enjoy the journey. What they enjoy is the process of aiming for. so they are never finished. a harder journey. They may take a holiday. Along the journey there are moments when it feels good and moments when it feels bad. whatever they be. and so on. INW stands for: • Integrity • Needs • Wants Developed by Thomas Leonard and his team at Coach U. ‘Success’ becomes terminology that only the outsider looking on would use. Successful people certainly notice what they have achieved. developing your own kitchen cabinet and playing the politics game. I’ve discovered that success isn’t a single ‘destination’. Finally. you can then make decisions based on getting your needs met. He now works with top Silicon Valley companies advising
. having a clear understanding of who you are. This is where the INW theory may be useful. They may achieve their goals. but never achieve dizzying heights of success. in time. You will know when you are doing something that feels uncomfortable. You don’t get there and then sit back to enjoy the view. a more challenging ride which may. Randy Komisar. you can be fully available when other people require your help. that the next stage in your career requires more networking – building trust. What feels wrong to you might be perfectly acceptable to someone else. but that your needs take priority. a case of trial and error. As tycoon Peter Jones says: The truth is that everyone will experience successes and failures in their business life. has had a career based almost entirely on his passion. even if other people behave that way and seem to have no problem with it. All you can hope for is that you are able to tip the balance in favour of the former. Successful people are only as successful as this morning’s share price or this week’s bestseller list. so that it remains a true reflection of your values. I questioned whether ‘passion’ really was an ingredient in success. buy a Ferrari or give themselves a pay rise. your code of conduct and your priorities. This is because you can focus on getting their mask right only if you are breathing freely.1 When I asked some of our experts whether they perceived themselves as successful.
a promoter or a presenter. Rowling may have known where her characters would end up but she didn’t know what life had in store for her when she sat down to write the Harry Potter novels. Designing your own path means setting out on a route that seems most likely to take you to the goals that matter to you and then tacking and jiving throughout your life depending on the opportunities that come your way (or the opportunities that you create). But he has chosen jobs which intrigued him rather than jobs that took him in a particular direction. yes. or not even knowing what it is. You have to be more conscious of your choices. a passion-driven career with all its fluidity and flexibility actually happens to make sense in the everchanging landscape of the new economy. there really is no excuse. other people and the world. employing the ingredients outlined in this book. those who are – in George’s words – driven to achieve by short-comings in their character’. Third. be willing to start from scratch or take a gamble in order to continue in your pursuit of excellence. Richard Branson did not know what his portfolio of businesses would look like when he started working for himself in the basement of his family’s home. What they were able to do was follow their passion. Second.
WHAT IS MY UNIQUE PATH?
The traditional idea of a career path has been undermined over the last 30 years. But the best thing about a career like mine is that it isn’t a career at all. . Of course. it is in their poetry or their music. More youngsters go into further education than ever before and yet many of our most respected success icons did not have a conventional education. As long as they cared about what they were doing. You can still be looking for your dream job. You must:
. While previous generations may have been able to predict the steps it took to get to the top in their field. the situation is less clear. Your company may commit to your ongoing development by investing in leadership training and team bonding excursions. as did deciding whether to go to university and what to study. K. But boring. They allow their personality through and it imprints itself on everything they touch: it filters through their team or their organisation. Still others manage three or four serious careers in one lifetime. Those who don’t work at it get stuck in one place. and that feels terrific. will massively impair your ability to succeed. Others zig-zag from one seemingly unrelated experience to another. a passion-driven career is good for the companies you work for because you’re there for the love of the work. . excelling at each one. it is never dull. often.3 Most successful people did not fully envision where they are today when they started out. when you arrive at your destination. Confounding.them on strategy and growth. but there are no guaranteed promotions based on years in service. In the past due to lack of education. It means keeping on keeping on even when some people question your choices or argue that you are making life hard for yourself. it is as good as you imagined.
DO I ACCEPT MYSELF?
Success isn’t for everyone. In his 2004 Harvard Business Review article on the subject. Knowing what makes you different is the first step to turning that difference in to the quality that makes you special. but once there an individual can be very damaged . And you can start any time. This makes it easier in some ways and more difficult in others. it is easier now that the rules have been eroded in that. Whether you dropped sciences or languages at the age of 14 seemed absolutely crucial. In the extreme. they know themselves very deeply. Without self-awareness it is still possible to make it to the top.
HOW WELL DO I KNOW MYSELF?
Most successful people who are still enjoying their success are very self-aware. it sits between the lines in the books they write. Through understanding their strengths and weaknesses. . you can never reach a dead end. Some people make it to the top in one single leap and are multimillionaires by the time they are 29 years old. Today. their motivations and how they respond in different situations. You can feel some satisfaction from giving your all to an organisation. it is not so simple today. Hiding what makes you stand out from the crowd. Actually. I know many professionals who spent 20 years in the corporate world as middle managers and only in their 40s or 50s did they pursue a lifelong ambition and turn it in to a massive success. their values. take inordinate risks on behalf of the organisation. . In his article ‘Goodbye Career. But you may still have huge success as a producer. It’s a life. their purpose. But would you want to? The kind of success I have been describing – making it to the top of the field – isn’t all it is cracked up to be. let me rephrase that. Scary. It used to be that decisions you made about the subjects you were going to study at school determined the rest of your life. if you are determined enough. Having neglected to spend any time on personal development. Today. However. Not only is it a never-ending journey but using all ten key ingredients simultaneously is hard work. 50s and beyond. And it means you will gain satisfaction from the process of achieving success rather than hoping that. Clearly there is no longer one guaranteed route to success. never becoming complacent. You may be on the wrong path for you and only discover this when you are further down the line.4 Successful people may admire other people but they do not want to be them: they want to be the best version of themselves they can be. 40s. whether they have done this through conscious introspection or not. There never comes a point where you have to accept you are average in every way. You may have always wanted to make it as a singer but discover after your fourth X-Factor audition that you really couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. can be tempted to: . your big break or your revolutionary new invention in your 30s. so this isn’t an excuse to run wild and insult. You’re always learning about yourself. they could sustain themselves through the difficult times and stay focused on what was important to them. and damaging. you could have found yourself never achieving your full potential. never. Bill Gates didn’t know where his technology would take him. It feels meaningful. find yourself at the top. social background or simply a face that didn’t fit. Hello Success’ he describes the value of being motivated by a passion: First. They may even come to believe they are so important that they place their interests above those of the organisation He concludes that: It is only through a deep self-awareness that you can find your inner voice and listen to it. in our society. they have no authentic personal ‘style’ and often ape the professional behaviour of others. William George argues that those who have made it to the top of the greasy pole through aggression and determination can do more harm than good once they’ve reached their goal. But it does mean you can be true to yourself when called upon to make decisions. you may need to dramatically change direction. But I truly believe everyone has what it takes to be successful at something. J. It means keeping your eyes open. made decisions based on his friendships with people and let go of the need to impress family and colleagues with his job titles. It might not be the area in which you currently imagine yourself reaching the top. He has trusted his gut. Knowing the impact you have on others is a big part of self-awareness. It is more difficult because you cannot simply sign on the dotted line at a recruitment fair and. Everyone has it in them to reach the top in some area. Those who get ahead have worked for it. upset or hurt those around you because you are determined to ‘be yourself’. 30 years later. never relying on other people to hand you success on a plate.
Kets de Vries puts it.2. They know what they want and they know it is worth it to them. their need to compete or unresolved issues from the past which leave them feeling they have to prove something to someone.. you have decided that your fulfilment will come from balancing all the areas of your life – work you enjoy and a life outside which meets your other needs – then I wish you well. and knuckle down You may have to compromise on your personal life or your personal life may have to adapt a great deal to you. 4 George. Your children may have to get used to you not being around. then throw yourself in to it without regret. and their choices might look like madness to other people. as leadership psychologist Manfred F. Peter. p.
. For others. For many people it is a no-brainer. Harvard Business Review. And I hope above all that you enjoy the journey.coachinc. you are able to pursue with vigour and commitment. Tycoon. it is a battle they get drawn in to based on the expectations of others. I hope. And maybe. As Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive. William. March 2000. If.253. Harvard Business Review January 2004. p. It may not be working nine-to-five and spending the weekends playing football at the park. Diane L. ‘Putting Leaders on the Couch: Manfred F. London: Hodder & Stoughton 2007. R. 5 Coutu. Harvard Business Review. or that the price being paid now is a small one compared with the prize being offered later on.• Remember your manners • Stay focused • Have nerves of steel • Gain trust • Surround yourself with trusted advisers and supporters • Play the politics game • Hone your talent • Keep pushing yourself beyond your original goals • Be inventive • .
1 Jones. p. This is a liberating realisation and one which. and true success is to labour. By ignoring the truth you simply set up false expectations and are a constant disappointment to yourself and others. then I commend you for your courage and your tenacity. If deep down you don’t care that much about this kind of success but measure success more by the way you spend your time outside of work. And you have to feel that none of this is as important as what you are working on.. Hello Success. it is as well to know now. Randy. R. as a result of reading this book. then success of the kind we have been talking about might not result in a fulfilling life for you.5 If. ‘Leading by Feel – Finding your Voice’. 2 www. Your friends may describe you as someone who is always late or always calls to cancel. it helps to be a little mad: I happen to believe that those who accept the madness in themselves may be the healthiest leaders of all. on the other hand.’ p. Kets de Vries’. January 2004. But they know what balance feels right for them and they commit to achieving it.71. you feel confident you can mix up these ingredients in to your own recipe for success. They find a balance that suits them. Your partner may need to be willing to sacrifice his or her own career or accept they will see little of you. if through understanding these ingredients you realise that you have what it takes and following the recipe would not feel like a high price to pay.35. However. Healthy successful people take personal responsibility for the choices they have made and do not blame other people. If you don’t believe you can behave with integrity and follow this recipe. ‘Goodbye Career.com 3 Komisar.